Caribbean RoundUp

Permanent Representative of St. Lucia to the United Nations Menissa Rambally.
Consulate General in New York

Caribbean

The education ministries in Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica have announced a ban on the controversial “Charlie Charlie Challenge” in schools, following reported displays of “paranormal behavior” by students.

In Antigua, Minister of Education Michael Browne said the game had no place in the island’s schools and the ministry would be adopting a zero tolerance approach.

He has warned that students who break the rule would be immediately suspended, with the possibility of expulsion.

Media reports stated at least 12 students at one secondary school where the game was being played recently, were rushed to the hospital by emergency personnel after they complained of nausea, fainting and shortness of breath.

Over in Jamaica, the Ministry of Education issued a bulletin in which Chief Education Officer Grace McLean instructed all schools to closely monitor students to ensure they were not taking the challenge, which allegedly involves summoning a demon to answer questions with “yes’ or “no’ answers.

The Ministry of Education in St. Lucia, where students reported seeing desks lifting off the ground, implemented a similar ban recently. In Barbados, the ministry is carrying out an investigation.

The “Charlie Charlie Challenge,” which has been trending on social media, is a rudimentary form of the Ouija board.

Bahamas

For the second year in a row, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau said it continues to receive reports from U.S. companies alleging that there is a lack of “transparency and undue political influence with government bidding and procurement processes.”

According to the U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Report 2015 on The Bahamas, American companies “complain that the approval processes are confusing and opaque, with little to no possibility for review or appeal of a decision.”

“The process lacks transparency, there is no requirement to engage in open public tenders and award decisions are not subject to review,’ says the report, which is compiled by the U.S. Embassy in Nassau.

“The (Bahamian) government has implemented procurement procedures in the management of funds from international lending agencies, but has not yet implemented best international practices for the management of national finances.”

“Successive governments sometimes review high-profile contracts executed by previous administrations, although government officials assert that the majority of contracts are not reviewed or altered in any way.”

The report notes that the government has publicly committed to modernizing and reforming the procurement process.

Jamaica

A 28-year-old hotel employee was jailed for nine months after he was found guilty of stealing more than a dozen phones used by the United States Secret Service during the visit to Jamaica by President Barack Obama, the Jamaican newspaper reported recently.

It said the arrest of Christopher Green one day after Obama left Kingston on April 9 was kept out of the public eye until he appeared in court recently when he was sentenced to nine months imprisonment.

But the newspaper said the sentence was suspended for two years, meaning that Green will not serve the time unless he commits a crime within that period, for which he could be imprisoned.

Green an electrician was charged with simple larceny after admitting to police that on April 10 he stole 15 Nokia 106 cellphones from a room on the 12th floor of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel that was supposed to have been secured.

Several phones were purchased for Obama’s security personnel for the visit.

At the end of their duties in Jamaica, the Secret Service agents left the phones on a table in the room which was locked up.

The phones were kept secured until April 11 when U.S. Embassy workers would have collected them. The phones were picked up, but an inventory later discovered that 15 of them were missing.

Police said eight of the 15 phones were recovered, three from Green’s mother and five from his co-workers,

Guyana

Guyana has warned it would “vigorously” resist any attempt by Venezuela to enforce a new claim over coastal waters where Exxon Mobil recently announced an important oil find.

Caracas issued a decree May 27 laying claim to waters off the Essequibo, a disputed territory that borders Venezuela and encompasses more than half of Guyana.

The Venezuelan action came less than a month after Exxon Mobil said it had made a “significant” discovery in an offshore concession granted to Guyana.

Guyana’s foreign ministry claimed that the Venezuelan decree was a violation of international law and a threat to regional peace and security.

“Any attempt by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to apply that instrument in an extra-territorial manner will be vigorously resisted by the Cooperative Republic of Guyana,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement stressed that Guyana would continue to access and develop its offshore natural resources.

Guyana, a former British colony, maintains that the land boundary was settled in 1899 by a court of arbitration set up after a crisis that promoted the United States to intervene in favor of Venezuela against Britain, asserting the Monroe Doctrine.

Suriname

Suriname is sending a strong delegation to participate in the 22nd Annual Board of Governors Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), in Mozambique, which recently began in Maputo. Among the delegation are Suriname’s governor to the Islamic Bank Gillmore Hoefdraad and alternate governor, Anwar Lall.

At the center of the mission to Mozambique are two projects that Paramaribo submitted and wants to see approval. As well, Paramaribo is submitting new projects that the government is seeking further support from the Islamic Bank in its drive to improve the country’s health and education infrastructure.

Suriname has received more than US$105 million in financing of 12 operations since 1997 from the Islamic Bank. In 2013, Suriname and the Islamic Bank agreed on a new interim member country partnership, which translated into Suriname recently receiving additional loans totaling US$75.8 million for two projects in the health and education sectiors. Suriname is now working to seal a broader partnership with the bank.

The Islamic Development Bank is an institution that aims to provide economic and social development to its member countries by granting credit to projects and companies, promoting trade and exports.

St. Lucia

The government of St. Lucia recently opened an embassy in Taiwan, the Caribbean country’s first in Asia, in an effort to strengthen bilateral ties.

The inauguration ceremony was presided over by St. Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony and attended by Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation Alva Baptiste; Permanent Representative of St. Lucia to the United Nations Menissa Rambally; and other St. Lucian officials, James Chang and other Taiwanese foreign affairs officials.

During his visit, Anthony met with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jieu, to whom he stressed St. Lucia’s appreciation for the support received from Taiwan. He also thanked the Taiwan president for the continuous funding of the Constituency Development Program (CDP), which has provided thousands of jobs across all 17 constituencies in St. Lucia.

The prime minister also visited with St. Lucian students in Taiwan.

Taiwan and St. Lucia have maintained close cooperation in public health, education, infrastructure and culture since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations in 2007.

St. Kitts

The governor general of St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to announce a new supervisor of elections shortly, according to Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr.

“We would wait his excellency the governor general to determine who or what would happen to the supervisor of elections,” Byron said.

The supervisor of elections Wingrove George was at the center of controversy during the Feb. 18 general elections. In the early hours of the morning following the closing of the poll, George abruptly announced that he was stopping the count and would be making no more announcements.

The AG had said previously that George had assisted police in the subsequent investigations into the events surrounding the poll, including issues with the preparation of the voter list.

Turks and Caicos

The finance minister in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) has told foreigners living in that British overseas territory that if they want to celebrate their native countries’ festivities they should go back to where they came from.

Washington Misick, who also served as chief minister in the 1990s, chastised immigrants for celebrating their culture publicly, according to the TCI Sun newspaper.

“We have something coming up here called Haitian Flag Day. We got Jamaica Day. We have got Bahamas Day… If these people want to be part of us, we cannot encourage, we can’t support them with all these days,” the newspaper quoted him as saying in the House of Assembly recently.

“We should not be supporting these splinter groups with their different days. You would never see me appear at one of them. I would not. This is the Turks and Caicos. If you are here, this is Rome do as the Romans do.” If you want to be here contribute here, if you want to go somewhere else, then American Airlines flies here many times a day,” Misick said.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar staged a walk-out of Parliament, unable to listen any further to embattled Independent Labor Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner’s criticisms of how the government was handling the economy and he promises to have “the last laugh.”

Warner, whose presence in the Parliament got the attention of a contingent of foreign and local media, was in the midst of speaking what he described as government’s “voodoo mathematics” with the economy when Persad-Bissessar got up and gathered her things.

She told the Speaker, “I refuse to listen to the offensive of a person like this. I find this very offensive” before walking out of the chamber.

Warner, who is now facing extradition to the U.S. to face racketeering and money laundering charges while he was FIFA vice-president, said he heard the prime minister making an “impassioned” plea for him to retract his attack on the reputation of the country.

He said he found her concern touching but he wondered that similar concerns were not expressed about other locals facing extradition to the United States and who had generated up to 89 charges of corruption on local soil.

This was during the debate on the Variation of Appropriation Bill.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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