Caribbean RoundUp

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has “unequivocally” condemned what he characterized as “the brutal assassination” of a political figure in Venezuela and the intensification of political violence in that country.

Browne was reacting to the assassination in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, of Robert Serra, a Member of Parliament from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), earlier this month.

Serra, was murdered in his home, along with his partner Maria Herera.

“This is a brutal assault on democracy that needs to be condemned,” said Browne in a statement.

“The callous nature of this crime cries out for justice and peoples and governments everywhere must come in defense of democracy,” he said.

Serra, 27, the youngest member of the Venezuelan parliament, was an active legislator who specialized in measures to fight crime.

Browne said he believed that the government of Nicholas Maduro would “address this negative political development and restore the sanctity of the Parliament and its members.”

Bahamas

The Bahamas government said it has completed the preparation of a new Petroleum Act and a set of regulations designed to guide oil exploration in the country.

Environment and Housing Minister Kenred M.A Dorsett said the legislation and regulations will form “an integral part” of the recently announced National Energy policy.

“This new legislative package will also include the legislative framework for a Sovereign Wealth Fund to ensure that in the even oil is discovered in commercially viable quantities, the wealth that will accrue to the nation as a result will be invest, managed and conserved in the most optimal way for present and future generations of Bahamians,” Dorsett said.

He said the new legislative package will be introduced to Parliament soon as soon as it meets following the short recess.

Dorsett said that the new legislative regime will ensure that exploration for oil in The Bahamas will be undertaken in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, consistent with international standards, best practices and the most up-to-date risk management, health and safety protocols.

Cayman Islands

Former Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush has been cleared of corruption charges.

He was recently found not guilty of all 11 corruption charges by a seven-member jury, Radio Jamaica reported.

The jury deliberated for five hours before returning the not guilty verdict.

Bush was charged with 11 counts of misconduct in public office and breach of the public’s trust.

It was alleged that he spent about $50,000 of public money — gambling at slot machines in the United States and the Bahamas between 2009 and 2011.

Bush has always denied any wrongdoing since his arrest in December 2012.

Dominica

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says he has no intention of abolishing income tax as his ruling Dominica Labor Party gears up to contest a general election constitutionally due by March next year, but widely expected before that date.

Addressing the recent launch of a water project in Belles, east of Roseau, Skerrit said his administration would not seek to remove taxes “just because you want to gain votes.”

Skerrit said that Caribbean countries with no income tax or a sales or value added tax (VAT) had to introduce such fiscal policies “because countries that give us aid are saying to us we are paying taxes and you can’t come to us asking for money when you are not willing to make your people contribute.”

The prime minister said countries “around us” are laying off workers, but Dominica has not lost “one job, notwithstanding the global crisis.”

Guyana

The Guyana government says 1,600 medical professionals will soon begin training to treat the deadly Ebola virus as it continues to cause concern worldwide.

Dr. Johanna Cole, internal medicine-infectious disease consultant at the Georgetown Public Hospital says Guyana has developed a mass preparedness campaign to deal with the threat of the virus.

Speaking at a Continued Medical Education (CME) session, Dr. Cole noted the medical professionals will soon begin training on dealing with the virus, and the necessary approach towards administering care to people who have contracted the virus as opposed to those who are suspected of having it.

Dr. Cole said surveillance at all ports of entry including airports and shipping ports, as well as screening is being done.

Jamaica

Jamaica police are searching for gunmen who shot and killed four men transporting two million dollars to pay employees of a Chinese firm constructing a section of the North/West link of Highway 2000.

Police said the men, identified as Courtney Courbourne, 38, Carlton Scott, 37, Greg Harris and another man identified only as Kirk, were shot and killed during the daring daylight robbery that was described as vicious and brutal.

Investigators said the vehicle transporting the men overturned as it appeared the driver was attempting to escape, but was impeded by the narrow roadway.

There are reports that the bandits then went over to the injured men, as they lay suffering from gunshot wounds and fired several additional shots. The gunmen took off with the payroll.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s Police Commissioner Vernon Francois says the recent discovery of two bodies within a few hours of each other on the island’s west coast appear to be drug related.

The area is known to be the home of several marijuana plantations.

“It may have been drug related but we cannot confirm at this point in time but that is one of the theories we are looking at,” Francois told a news conference.

One body was identified as that of Victor Phillip, 65, a farmer who is reported to have sustained what appeared to be a gunshot to the head.

The other body also bore bullet wounds.

Francois said officers do not know if the two deaths are related, as the state of decomposition of the second body indicates that he was killed a few days before.

Late last month Prime Minister Kenny Anthony said that the country’s war against drugs is being significantly hampered by the decision of the United States to continue sanctions against the St. Lucia Police Force.

Last year, the U.S. announced that it was barring the St. Lucia Police Force from taking part in American funded training exercises and assistance under its anti-drug program.

The decision was made by Washington in light of what it called credible allegations of gross human rights violations by local lawmen.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar blocked a trip by a Trinidad and Tobago delegation at attend the annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, which took place in Cameroon, Africa between Oct. 6-12 in wake of the Ebola virus.

The delegation was to include three members of Parliament and two members of the Tobago House of Assembly and another member.

The THA team had already left the country and was at the first destination in London when they were recalled.

Several Caribbean countries did not attend the conference due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus now sweeping West Africa.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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