Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

Economy-class passengers traveling to the Caribbean, the U.S., Mexico and within Canada, will now have to pay CAN$25 for luggage.

According to Air Canada, those traveling on Flex and Latitude Economy Class fares, or Altitude Prestige, Elite and Super Elite members will not be affected.

Business class travelers, Star Alliance Silver and Gold members, military personnel or anyone booking with Air Canada Vacations have also been spared.

The airline said about 20 percent of its Canadian customers will be subject to the new fee, which represents the equivalent of about five per cent of Air Canada customers system-wide.

It is believed that the new fees could bring in between CAN$50 and CAN$75 million a year in new revenue for the carrier.

Almost all major North American carriers now charge for checked baggage, with the notable exceptions of U.S. line JetBlue and Southwest.

Barbados

Barbados’ Tourism Minister and International Transport Minister Richard Sealy is the new chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

He replaces United States Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who ended her two-year term recently.

Sealy has pledged to work with all entities in the region to deal with some of the vexing problems in regional tourism.

The Barbados minister will soon name his appointee for the post of chairman of the CTO Board of Directors.

Five vice-chairs were also elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors

They are representatives from the U.S. territories, the Dutch Caribbean; Martinique, the French Caribbean; Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago representing the independent Caribbean countries and the Turks and Caicos Islands representing the British overseas territories.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands authorities say they have repatriated more than 20 Cuban nationals who arrived illegally.

A brief official statement noted that 26 migrants, including one female, were housed at the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) and had been repatriated via a charter flight from the Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman.

The statement said that 20 more Cubans, who arrived illegally on Sept. 2, are housed at the IDC.

It said efforts will be made to return the 13 men and seven women to Havana as soon as possible.

Recently, Mexican officials confirmed that at least two Cuban migrants died and as many as eight more were missing after a three-week ordeal at sea. The Cubans were rescued by the Mexican Navy and taken to the immigration facility in the city of Merida, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Guyana

Guyana’s environment ministry says that there has been less deforestation in 2013 thanks to a decrease in gold mining activity.

The ministry said in a statement that some 12,770 hectares of forest were cleared in 2013. That is a decrease of nearly 15 percent compared to the previous year.

Gold mining commonly requires companies to clear forests. Officials noted that gold production has dropped by at least 20 percent this year.

The ministry said the report will now face two independent reviews, including one by Norway.

In 2009, the Norwegian government promised to give the South American country a grant of $250 million to encourage it to protect its forests and uphold sustainable mining.

Guyana has already lost US$20 million of that funding because of increased deforestation in 2012.

Haiti

Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is again reminding Cabinet colleagues that they should not use scarce resources to buy luxury motor vehicles.

Lamothe, who gave up the lavish motorcade he inherited from his predecessor, says the government, which is promoting a “preferential option for the poor” must set the example.

“I don’t think a minister or myself, as prime minister, need a pricey luxurious car to come to work, while our responsibility is to use our meagre resources to fight poverty,” Lamothe said.

Most government ministers and other high-ranking officials have already complied with the measure, but a few others still have to follow.

The prime minister said the government is implementing, very scrupulously, the vision presented by President Michel Martelly, who made the fight against poverty a priority of his administration.

Jamaica

A U.S. civil rights lawyer said that she is volunteering her time to help represent relatives of a slain Jamaican man whose death in custody has amplified distrust of Jamaica’s police force among many islanders.

Jasmine Rand, an attorney who heads the civil rights department for Florida law firm Parks & Crump, was one of the lawyers representing the family of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin,

Recently, she joined the legal team representing relatives of Mario Deane, a 31-year-old Jamaican construction worker who died on Aug. 6 after he was beaten in a police lockup in Montego Bay.

Two inmates have been charged with Deane’s murder, but attorney Michael Lorne asserts the death resulted from police brutality or misconduct. An independent commission that probes allegations of abuses by Jamaican security forces is investigating the death.

Interest in Deane’s case is high in Jamaica, where people are discussing the police custody death on street corners, in offices, in letters to the editor and social networking websites.

St. Lucia

The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Dr. Carissa Etienne is urging member countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to remain vigilant against the potential threat of the Ebola virus that has killed thousands of people in Africa.

“It is an epidemic and PAHO has seen an exponential increase of cases in West Africa,” said Dr. Etienne, adding that the epidemic has been declared a humanitarian crisis by the United States.

She said it is going to take a huge effort to be able to contain and certainly stop the transmission of this epidemic.

Dr. Etienne said that PAHO and the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPH) have been engaging in works to ensure that member states have the capacity to deal with any case of Ebola.

Dr. Etienne, who ended a brief visit to St. Lucia, said that the Chikunguyana virus which is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito is not so much a concern as the Ebola virus.

Trinidad

A new poll commissioned by the Trinidad Express newspaper, as the race heats up for the 2015 general election in Trinidad and Tobago shows that if elections were called today it would almost be a dead heat between the ruling People’s Partnership Government and the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM).

The poll conducted by data analysis firm Solution by Simulation (SBS) indicates that political preference in the country are divided in near-equal numbers even though Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar remains popular as a leader.

However, the proposed run-off factor if becomes law could make a difference, the poll shows.

But the poll also shows that the PNM has an edge over the Partnership in the marginal seats.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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