Caribbean RoundUp

Guyana’s President Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar.
Associated Press / Richard Drew


Pilots employed with cash-strapped regional airline LIAT are calling on the airline to pay salaries on time, saying that the failure to do so is creating significant hardship for them.

Recently the Antigua & Barbuda government, which is one of the four shareholder governments of the airline, said it met with LIAT officials and the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) to discuss the issues facing the company.

A government statement said the talks would continue early this year and that Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne met with the officials “following public concern so as to avoid a possible breakdown of regional air services over the holiday period.”

It said the meetings were aimed at “promoting resolution to a number of the issues presently confronting relations” between LIAT and LIALPA.


The Barbados government says it remains firmly committed to the strategy for growth and development on which it has embarked insisting that “the strategy has already begun to show positive results.”

Prime Minister Frenduel Stuart was responding to the latest downgrade of the island’s long-term sovereign rating by the U.S.-based rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, said that the strategy is one “based on Barbados’ established competitive strengths in tourism, international business and finance, and food and beverages and on the island’s potential for green energy.

“It is a strategy led by investment and outstanding entrepreneurship by the private sector, supported by government incentives and world class financial regulation and legal safeguards. The strategy is anchored on our fixed exchange rate to the US dollar, which is protected by an adequate cushion of foreign exchange of foreign exchange reserves,” Prime Minister Stuart said.

Stand & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the long-term sovereign rating of Barbados to “B” from “BB-“ warning also of the potential for a further economic downgrade.

S&P said the potential for a further downgrade existed “if the government doesn’t succeed in bringing down its wide fiscal deficit, if growth boosted by key investment projects fails to materialize, or if external pressures of persistent current account deficits mount.”


President of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA), Frederick Smith has written to Prime Minister Perry Christie urging him to intervene “in the growing debacle that is the Department of Immigration’s iron-fisted and unconstitutional new enforcement police, effective Nov. 1, 2914.”

In an open letter to Prime Minister Christie, the Queens Counsel is also calling on him to curb the action of his Immigration and Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell, who he said wants to take criminal libel action against senior GBHRA officials over statements regarding the Carmichael Road Detention Center.

Recently, Mitchell said statements allegedly made by Smith and another GBHR official, comparing the detention center to “Auschwitz in The Bahamas” were unfortunate.

“For edification of the general public, Auschwitz was a network of German Nazi concentration camps where Jews and other political prisoners were gassed to death, and other political prisoners were executed by firing squad,” he said.

In his statement, Mitchell said the two GBHR officials were “alleging by their characterization that the government of The Bahamas is involved in these kinds of activities as part of the enforcement of this country’s immigration policy. The allegations made are false and outrageous and there is not one scintilla of evidence to support these outrageous allegations.

The GBHR has been very vocal against the new immigration policy that requires non-nationals living in the Bahamas to show evidence that they have permission to live or work in the country.


Guyana’s main opposition party has asked a high court in the South American country to ban the administration of President Donald Ramotar from any spending that wasn’t earlier approved by legislators.

The request comes over a month after Ramotar temporarily suspended the opposition-controlled National Assembly to avert a no-confidence vote.

The main opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity, said that the court has given Ramotar’s government a week to answer the complaint.

Together with the Alliance for Change, the party has a one-seat majority in Parliament.

The National Assembly could remain suspended for up to six months under an unusual constitutional procedure Ramotar used.

The president said he will soon dissolve parliament altogether and will announce a date for the elections. They must be held within three months following the dissolution.


National Security Minister Peter Bunting says while Jamaica is experiencing a decline in all categories of violent criminal activities, there will be no easing up in the fight against crime.

“We are seeing double-digit reductions right across the board in all serious and violent crimes in Jamaica. We know we are not where we need to be, but at least we are closing in one being in line with the rest of the Caribbean and we are not going to let up until we are below the Caribbean average,” he said.

Bunting, who met with stakeholders to discuss security matters affecting the tourism sector, said there have been “dramatic reductions” in Westmoreland, where violent crime is down “very significantly this year.”

While, he provided no figures, Bunting noted that murders in the parish have been reduced by 50 percent.

Commissioner of Police Dr. Carl Williams said the mission of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JFC) is to ensure that people are safe.


Two senior police officers, including a major, have been arrested following the escape recently of six suspects from the police station in Latour, located in the Paramaribo District.

The six suspects were awaiting trials for various crimes, including robbery when they broke out from their cells.

Police spokesman Humphrey Naarden said the officers are suspected of aiding the escape.

Investigators said one of the suspects, Guillermo Blomhof, has been re-captured and the search is continuing for the other five people.

In recent months, police have arrested several of their colleagues on various crimes, including two officers from the Traffic Department who were caught collecting fines from motorist whom they had given tickets.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines government owes EC$141 million to Venezuela under PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of some Caribbean and Latin American nations with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament “in the aggregate, it is EC$141 million dollars, comprising EC$62 million dollars plus, as indicated in the debt profile to IADC (International Airport Development Company), just over $60 million dollars in the central government, and other monies as I have just indicated when I read out the entire printout, and eight million in cash balances.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines received its first shipment of petroleum products under PetroCaribe in December 2005, on the eve of the general elections and has since received diesel and some liquefied petroleum products under the agreement on a regular basis.


Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has announced a new baggage policy of charging customers for their second checked bag.

The first checked bag continues to be free, together with one carry-on bag. The fee for the second bag will be US$25 plus applicable taxes.

CAL also announced an improvement in its international baggage policy for business class customers whose free checked baggage allotment will be increased to three pieces.

According to a statement from the airline, the move is an attempt to match industry practice and remain competitive.

CAL said the most of its competitors were already charging passengers for all their checked bag.

The airline said: ‘This new policy will be implemented in two phases. Phase one takes effect on ticket purchased on after December 18, for travel from Jan. 15, 2015, on all flights between the Caribbean and Toronto.

“Phase two takes effect on tickets purchased on or after Feb. 1, 2015 for travel from April 15, 2015 on all flights throughout the rest of the network. This two-phase introduction allows our customers to adjust and plan ahead” CAL said in a statement.

Customers exempt from paying the second bag fee include those who have purchased fully flexible fares in W, Y and K categories: Caribbean Miles members in Executive Gold, Gold and Silver Tier Levels; 7th Heaven Rewards Executive Gold, Gold and Silver Tier levels.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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