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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending March 15th, 2013

15 Mar

IN HAITI, DISPLACED PEOPLE AT RISK OF ARBITRARY ARREST—03/10/13
People living in a camp in the capital of Haiti were told by police that a number of them are on a list for arrest. The people are also under threat of eviction from their living situation. According to Amnesty International, the police threat can be linked to continuing efforts by the alleged owner of the land on which the camp is situated to intimidate the residents into leaving their homes. The residents at Grace Village camp learned on February 15, 2013, that an arrest warrant was issued for a camp committee member, and on February 18, the police arrested another committee member, who was later released without being charged. No reasons have been given for any of the arrests.

AFTER CHAVEZ, CARIBBEAN FACES ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY—03/11/13
After the death of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, 17 nations in the Caribbean region are facing increased economic uncertainties. Twelve of the countries are members of CARICOM and have become dependent on oil supplies from Venezuela. Without the oil from PetroCaribe, a loan-payment plan, these nations could be in difficulty. Cuba is the chief beneficiary of the plan, but others, including Jamaica, are also at risk for economic uncertainty after Chavez’s death.

GRENADA RESTRUCTURES DEBT—03/12/13
Grenada is calling on its creditors to restructure $193 million in bonds ahead of a coupon payment the government says it cannot afford to meet. It has been eight years since the nation’s last debt swap. According to Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, the global economic crisis has had a terrible impact on Grenada, aggravating its already severe debt. Grenada depends on nutmeg exports and tourism to support its $1.4 billion economy. Its debt could reach 109 percent of its gross domestic product in 2013.

COSTA RICA SEIZES TWO TONS OF COCAINE—03/13/13
Authorities in Costa Rica seized two tons of cocaine from a boat detained in Manzanillo in the southern Caribbean area. The boat was spotted by aerial surveillance by security forces as it moved at high speeds near the Costa Rican coastline. According to the country’s Security Minister Mario Zamora, there were at least 50 packages of cocaine discovered on the boat, and about two tons of the drug was confirmed by authorities. It is believed the boat originated in Colombia.

CUBANS TO DISCUSS OIL DRILLING IN BAHAMAS—03/14/13
Representatives from Cuba will travel to the Bahamas to talk about the “mutual interests” of the two nations in regard to oil drilling. According to Kenred Dorsett, Bahamian Minister of the Environment and Housing, Russian interests have started to drill for oil near the country’s territory, and the discussions with the Cuban team will address the fact that this drilling is occurring only 12 miles from Bahamas’ territorial waters. Dorsett questions the potential impact of this drilling on the environment.

BRITAIN’S HAGUE CRITICIZES SPEECH BY LEADER OF TURKS AND CAICOS—03/15/13
William Hague, Foreign Secretary of Britain, has strongly criticized remarks made by the Premier of Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) at a meeting of CARICOM heads of governments in February 2013. Hague said that the Premier’s comments misrepresented the past and the present situations in both countries. He also reminded Ewing that the previous government, which was run by Ewing’s Progressive National Party (PNP) “left behind a chaotic situation” that included “rapidly deteriorating public finances.”

FISHERMAN KILLED BY SHARKS—03/13/13
A Jamaican fisherman, George Facey, was with a group of other fisherman when they encountered sharks during a dive three miles off the south coast of the island. Facey, 68, received several shark bites before his companions managed to retrieve his body and take it in to shore. It is not known what type of sharks is responsible for the incident.

U.S. SENATORS URGE OFFICIALS TO CRACK DOWN ON PHONE SCAMS—03/14/13
Senators in the United States Congress have called on both Jamaican and U.S. officials to improve their efforts to stop phone scammers who are stealing millions of dollars from senior citizens in Maine and other states in the U.S. According to Senator Ben Nelson of Florida, scammers in Jamaica should be extradited to the U.S. to face trial for the crime. He believes this would have a “chilling effect” on many scammers who currently feel they are beyond the reach of the law.

NEW LEGISLATION TO CONTROL JAMAICA LOTTERY SCAMS—03/14/13
Officials in Jamaica hope that new legislation will lead to the convictions of the criminals behind the multimillion dollar lottery fraud that chiefly targets elderly people in the United States. According to Peter Bunting, Jamaica’s National Security Minister, the bill that focuses on fraudulent transaction will lead to many more successful prosecutions of the scammers. An estimated 30,000 calls per day are made by Jamaican fraudsters to U.S. citizens.

MANY YOUNG PEOPLE MAY NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE—03/15/13
Statements from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) are raising questions about whether thousands of younger people did not present proof of their age when they registered to vote. This means they may not be eligible to vote if they did not offer proof of being 18 years old or older. The questions involve whether the ECJ verified that over 15,000 electors were at least 18, the required voting age. The problem arises from conflicts in how the ECJ operates.

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