PUERTO RICO MORE ACCEPTING OF GAY RIGHTS—03/02/13
Advances in gay rights in the United States have had an influence on Puerto Rico’s attitudes to gays. The island has become a relatively gay-friendly spot in the Caribbean, a region in which sodomy laws and harassment of gays is pervasive. The Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico, the party in power, has introduced a bill that would make discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation illegal. Another piece of proposed legislation would extend the current domestic violence law to gay couples. Puerto Rico already requires insurers to extend health insurance coverage to live-in partners of workers in the executive branch of government, regardless of gender.
WEBB APPOINTED TO LEAD FIFA ANTI-RACISM TASK FORCE—03/03/13
Jeff Webb, Caribbean football strongman, has been appointed to head the anti-racism task force of FIFA. This is the organization’s latest effort to address the issue in the sport of football. Webb, who was elected as president of CONCACAF in 2012 and vice-president of FIFA in the same year, will be chairman of the entity that oversees all issues relating to racism.
CUBA PLANS TO END JAYWALKING—03/04/13
Authorities in Cuba plan to take action to stop the common practice of jaywalking. They are concerned that dangers associated with jaywalking are increasing and making it a deadly problem. According to Havana resident Maria Rubio, 55, there is no custom in the country for using the crosswalk, and residents tend to have little respect for street traffic. Locals refer to crossing the street as “toreando autos,” or bullfighting with cars. Many hundreds of pedestrians are hit by cars each year because they jaywalk.
CHAVEZ OF VENEZUELA DIES—03/05/13
Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, has died at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer. Chavez was known for his populist views and won re-election in his country three times. Chavez modeled his leadership style after Simon Bolivar, the independence leader of the 19th century. He considered himself a soldier in a fight against the hegemony of the United States and thrived on controversy and confrontation.
MADURO TO SUCCEED CHAVEZ IN VENEZUELA—03/06/13
Venezuela’s vice president Nicolas Maduro, 50, will take over as president following the death of Hugo Chavez. Maduro must gather support and maintain unity in the ranks of his party. Maduro was chosen by Chavez to be his successor. Formerly a bus driver, Maduro gained the trust of Chavez by being a loyal spokesman for his positions.
ECONOMIST PROMOTES PRO-GROWTH STRATEGIES IN CARIBBEAN—03/07/13
Zhivargo Laing, former cabinet minister in the Bahamas and a top Caribbean economist, believes that the new governments in Grenada and Barbados should move their countries toward economic sustainability. He says this will require “genuine spiritual leadership devoid of ego in order to make difficult decisions with awareness, intelligence, wisdom and compassion.” Laing praised the newly elected leaders of Grenada and Barbados for their efforts, but said economic challenges still remain for their countries.
JAMAICAN PARLIAMENT PAYS TRIBUTE TO CHAVEZ—03/06/13
Jamaica’s Parliament is making arrangements to make appropriate acknowledgement of the contributions of recently deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez died after a long struggle with cancer. The House of Representatives has already recognized the friendship and love that Chavez had for Jamaica and its people. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Opposition Leader Andrew Holness both recognized Chavez as well and said his death was sad.
PRIME MINISTER PRAISES PUBLIC SECTOR FOR CONCERN ABOUT NATION—03/07/13
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced that the government will make concessions to workers in the public sector who have agreed to a freeze of their wages until 2016 as part of a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The National Housing Trust (NHT) may also be called upon for help to ensure that success of the programs Jamaica is pursuing with the IMF.
PUBLIC WORKERS, ACCEPTING WAGE FREEZE, SAY NEVER AGAIN—03/07/13
Jamaica Civil Service Association president Oneil Grant says that while workers in the public sector have agreed to a wage freeze until 2016, they will not repeat this sacrifice again in the future. The workers made the agreement for the good of the national economy, but are emphatic that they will not put themselves into a similar position ever again. Grant encouraged other trade unions to sign the wage freeze agreement, noting the country’s need for economic reform.
FEWER FISHING LICENSES TO BE ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT—03/08/13
The government of Jamaica is moving to reduce the number of fisherfolk in Pedro Cays by reducing the number of fishing licenses granted. According to Roger Clarke, Minister of Agriculture, the number of licenses to be issued in 2013 will total 380. This is a reduction of some 600 individuals in the area for conch season. Clarke also said that the government will strengthen enforcement activities performed by the Marine Police, the Jamaica Defense Force Coast Guard, and the Fisheries Division in order to ensure that only licensed fisherfolk are allowed to stay on the cays.