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The Caribbean Development Bank (CDM) has announced that it will fund a program to enhance capacity for mental health and psychological support in disaster management in the Caribbean.

CDB Director of Projects Daniel Best said it is critical that a community’s response to any disaster includes a targeted psychosocial support and mental health component to rebuild individual and social resilience.

Best said, “we have witnessed first-hand how feelings of anxiety and distress can result from the inability to tolerate and withstand environmental and social threats and lead to behaviors, including substance abuse, child and spouse abuse and gender-based violence.”

This, he noted, can potentially have a long term debilitating impact on victims and by extension, the development of Small Island Developing States.

Best said there is need to update action plans and implement a Caribbean awareness and communication campaign in preparing for the 2018 hurricane season.

Antigua

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has revealed that Antigua and Barbuda had paid off the twin-island nation’s debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He told a press conference recently that his government had given instructions to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) to make the final payment of EC$12 million (US$4.4 million) to settle the EC$30 million loan in its entirety.

Browne said the government will no longer be indebted to the IMF and that would signal to the national community and to investors that the Antigua economy was strong.

The IMF loan was approved back in 2010, under the former Baldwin Spencer administration in which the current United Progressive Party (UPP) leader was finance minister- to support the government’s plan to address rising debt, weak economic growth and the effects of the economic crisis.

Browne also announced that Venezuela would be writing off a significant portion of Antigua and Barbuda’s PetroCaribe debt, which stands at half a billion dollars.

Barbados

The Barbados government is insisting that there would be no same-sex marriage on the Caribbean island.

This was revealed by Social Care and Community Development Minister Steve Blackett during a recent address of the ruling Democratic Labor Party.

He complained that lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT) people were “badgering” the government to accept same-sex unions.

But he said that while he was tolerant of the LGBT community, the DLP administration would not cave in to their demands.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch suggested that the time had come for Barbados to recognize same sex marriage and provide the sort of atmosphere in which the LGBT community can live freely and without fear of persecution or victimization.

The organization said that Barbados must “repeal Section 9, Chapter 154 of the Sexual Offensive Act of l992, which criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct.”

Guyana

An Italian oil and gas exploration company wants to drill for oil in Guyana if the government gives it permission to carry out exploration offshore.

ENI, which is a multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Rome, is considered one of the world’s largest publicly owned oil and gas companies.

It operates in 79 countries and is the world’s 11th largest industrial company with a market capitalization of 68 billion euros.

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, recently met the company’s Senior Vice President, Guido Zappala and his team in Guyana where he received a packaged plan of action from the company’s representatives.

The minister said that ENI, which is partly owned by the Italian government, has an excellent track record in terms of safety and good environmental practices and the company has been lending its support to other countries to help develop their renewable energy capacity.

Trotman said he will prepare a report to present to President David Granger for his consideration.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government has partnered with the United Nations to launch the Global Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking.

The campaign is an international awareness initiative by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to fight human trafficking and its impact on society.

It seeks to encourage involvement and inspire action to help stop the crime.

Carol Palmer, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice and chair of the National Task Force against Human Trafficking said that Jamaica is the first English-speaking Caribbean country to partner with the UNODC.

She noted that the strong global brand of the UN and the internionally recognized Brand Jamaica will make a compelling partnership in the fight against human trafficking.

Palmer said the combined resources of Governments everywhere are more than enough to secure an aggressive and sustained agenda against human trafficking.

The campaign was officially launched last month.

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has received a “full report on the details of the mishap” that occurred at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC last month.

A short release from the Office of the Prime Minister stated: “Upon his return to Trinidad from Tobago (where he was for the Easter vacation) Dr. Rowley will receive full details of the OAS mishap.”

The Prime Minister had requested a report from Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, Dennis Moses, prior to his visit to Tobago.

In the wake of the diplomatic blunder, the ministry had stated that the vote against Dominica’s request for a waiver of its OAS contribution was a “misreprese­ntation of Trinidad and Tobago position by a public official during the meeting of the OAS.”

However, documents showed that T&T’s OAS Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer who cast the vote, had sought guidance from the ministry on how Trinidad and Tobago should vote, suggesting support for hurricane-ravaged Dominica’s request to a waiver of its contributions for the years 2018 and 2019.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave instructions that he should vote against the waiver request and propose a deferral of Dominica’s payments.

- Compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 5:19 pm, April 11, 2018
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