CARICOM is again calling for a solution to the ongoing rum dispute with the U.S. but continues to steer clear of an approach to the World Trade Organization WTO) for now.
A release from the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development noted, “Ministers agreed to explore all avenues to address this serious matter with the United States and other relevant parties assured all avenues will be explored to address the ongoing rum dispute with the US.”
But while regional leaders insist they are determined to reach a solution – they are so far shying away from a WTO approach.
“CARICOM is determined to seek a satisfactory solution to the matter of trade-distorting subsidies being granted to the United States Virgin Island and Puerto Rico rum producers that threaten the long-term viability of the rum industry in the Caribbean,” the statement said.
Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Inzula, has called for greater equity and transparency in the systems of political financing in the Caribbean.
Addressing a regional forum “Strengthening Regulations of Political Parties and Political Financing Systems in the Caribbean,” the OAS chief said these are necessary “not only for the consolidation of free and fair elections but for the strengthening of democracy”.
Police in Guyana are cracking down on vigilantes after residents killed two suspected burglars in one week.
Police say 42-year-old construction worker Nigel Lowe was killed recently in the capital of Georgetown after being stripped naked, tied and beaten to death. Investigators say residents were preparing to set his body on fire when authorities arrived.
Another man, Fred Munroe, 45, was beaten to death in a southeastern village near the border with Suriname. A second unidentified person with him was also beaten but survived.
Five men have been detained in the killing of Munroe. Police have urged the public to turn over suspects and not take the law into their own hands.
Diplomats from donor nations recently met in Haiti to learn more about a new government panel that seeks to coordinate billions of dollars in aid money. This money is to help the nation rebuild from the 2010 earthquake.
The panel is known by the French acronym CAED, and will be overseen by the Planning Ministry. It replaces an agency that was set up months after the earthquake. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton served as the co-chair. Its mandate expired in October 2011.
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe created the new government agency in September to help better coordinate aid for rebuilding.
The Jamaican government is rallying public support for its ban on smoking in public places.
Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson said the effort is aimed at protecting the health of citizens, especially since surveys show that Jamaican children are engaged in unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking.
“The 2010 Global Youth Tobacco Survey undertaken by the National Council on Drug Abuse indicates that 40.4 percent of youth age 13-15, have smoked at least once and at least 19.4 percent of those who have ever smoked were under 10 years old. In addition, 70 percent of the students surveyed indicated that they are exposed to second hand smoke,” he said.
Dr. Ferguson said the World Health Organization (WHO) also indicates that tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide.
The Portia Simpson-Miller government is seeking to put in place a Tobacco Control Act that will protect citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco smoking, by prohibiting its use in public areas and work places. The legislation is in the draft stage and is expected to be brought to Parliament this financial year.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will use her position as chairman of CARICOM to actively pursue consensus among CARICOM member states on successor agreements and to engage Canada with CARICOM to outline the way forward for trade talks.
Persad-Bissessar will take over the chair of CARICOM in July.
Last year, Canada invested some TT$3.8 billion in Trinidad and Tobago and two-way merchandise trade between the two countries is approaching $3.84 billion per annum.
On the Persad-Bissessar’s recent visit to the U.S, Dookeran said the prime minister raised with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns the possibility of convening a CARICOM-US Summit to a date to be fixed.
This, he said, was in keeping with a decision taken by CARICOM heads in February 2013.
Dookeran said on the issue of criminal deportees from the U.S. to Trinidad and Tobago, the prime pinister indicated there is a lack of information about the backgrounds of persons deported from the U.S. and Burns undertook to raise the issue with his authorities.
The Foreign Affairs minister said the visit of U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden later this month was a significant demonstration of the excellent relations existing between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.
A British national, wanted in the UK on an accusation of attempted murder, has been denied bail and remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison after police found him in Antigua recently.
Jacob Reuben Smith, 24, will return to court on May 30.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anthony Armstrong said the government of Antigua & Barbuda received a request for Smith’s extradition several months ago. Smith was arrested on a warrant on the island. He is also accused of the illegal possession of a firearm and four other charges arising from an incident on April 5, 2009, in South Hampton, Hampshire, England. Shortly after the alleged incident, Smith reportedly fled the UK to France, then to St. Maarten and finally Antigua. He is said to have already obtained employment and started a family, fathering two children.
Guyana is providing “flag carrier status” to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) allowing the airline to provide direct flights between Georgetown and New York and Toronto, Canada.
Head of Guyana’s Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon said the decision to afford CAL flag carrier status would be communicated to the regulatory bodies in New York and Canada.
Last December, the Donald Ramoutar Guyana government bestowed the flag carrier status on the airline following the launch of its inaugural non-stop flight from Guyana to Canada.
A government statement said the investment being made seeks to ensure improvements in airline operations out of Guyana, and complements the anticipated expansion of the terminal runway at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
The eldest daughter of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, John Boehner, has tied the knot with her dreadlock, Jamaican-born construction worker boyfriend.
Lindsay Marie Boehner, 35, married Dominic Lakhan, 38. Recently, in an intimate ceremony amid a lush Florida garden. She wore a flowing white strapless gown, showing off a huge tattoo etched across her arm, while Dominic wore a grey suit with his dreadlocks flowing down his back.
About 60 guests were invited to the wedding, including Boehner and his wife Debbie, and Lindsay’s younger sister Tricia, 32.
Dominic was arrested in 2006 for possession of marijuana, with the arresting offer reporting that Lakhan admitted to possessing it for “personal use.” Boehner is a strong supporter of legalizing marijuana.
Compiled by Azad Ali