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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending May 3rd, 2013

03 May

BIRD FLU ALERT ISSUED FOR CARIBBEAN—04/27/13
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has issued an alert for countries in the region for Avian Influenza A (H7N9), also called bird flu. This strain has been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 individuals in China. According to Dr. Joy St. John, chief medical officer in Barbados, this flue has put everyone in the Caribbean on alert, causing them to enhance surveillance systems for acute respiratory infections. Doctors are also asked to submit all viruses they cannot subtype.

TRINIDAD CALLS FOR PURCHASE OF CANADIAN AIRCRAFT IN DRUG WAR—04/28/13
The government of Trinidad and Tobago is negotiating with a Canadian aircraft manufacturer to purchase two planes, which it hopes will help battle drug traffickers in the region. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, says her country has seen an increase in drug trafficking in recent years, due to crackdowns in Mexico and Columbia, which have forced traffickers onto other routes to reach North America.

BROTHER, SISTER SWIM FOR 14 HOURS AFTER BOAT SINKS—04/29/13
Brother and sister Dan and Kate Suski are lucky to be alive after having to swim in the Caribbean Sea for 14 hours after their 31-foot fishing boat sank off the shore of St. Lucia. The siblings from San Francisco, California, had chartered the boat, but it began to take on water, and they had to jump into open seas wearing life jackets. The captain and first mate also escaped the sinking, but the Suskis were separated from them by large waves. After spotting land in the distance, they swam for 14 hours to reach it. They landed safely and met a farm worker the next day who called for help.

CONFERENCE ON CARIBBEAN SHIPPING PLANNED—05/01/13
Grand Bahama Island will be one of the deepest and biggest transshipment hubs in the western hemisphere, according to organizers of the Caribbean Shipping Association executive conference. As such, it is the ideal location for the 12th annual conference. Over 200 over the most important shipping executives in the region will meet on Grand Bahama Island in May. Shipping companies from around the world are scheduled to attend.

DEAL ON CARIBBEAN TAX HAVENS IN UK RAISES CHANCE OF CRACKDOWN IN EU—05/02/13
British tax havens located in the Caribbean region have agreed to give information about offshore bank accounts. This action raises the chances that a European Union-wide agreement on the exchange of information about overseas accounts will be forthcoming. These havens are used to avoid taxation in the home country. Under the rules, Caribbean islands that have semi-autonomous status with the United Kingdom but not the EU will have to provide details on the ownership of bank accounts and how they are utilized. This is designed to keep people from avoiding taxes by moving money offshore.

DEPORTED CARIBBEAN NATIONALS RETURNING TO U.S. ILLEGALLY—05/03/13
According to a report from the Immigration Policy Center (IPC), citizens of Caribbean countries who have been deported from the United States are returning to that country illegally. The number of U.S. federal prosecution cases brought against Caribbean immigrants who were previously deported is rising. The number of criminal prosecutions brought for illegal entry to the U.S. rose from 7,900 in 2000 to 35,800 in 2010.

CAP NO BURDEN TO JAMAICA, PAULWELL SAYS—04/30/13
Phillip Paulwell, Jamaican Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), says that the Clarendon Alumina Partners (CAP) will no longer impose a burden on the country. According to Paulwell, the Consolidate fund will not support CAP any longer, and the entity will be on its own shortly. Jamaica owns 45 percent of Jamalco, which is vested in CAP, and had been trying to sell its portion to Glencore. The government has decided not to divest its stock, instead agreeing to an energy solution for Jamalco that will result in lower production costs and allow the firm to turn a profit.

JAMAICA APPROVES FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH COSTA RICA—05/01/13
The government of Jamaica has decided to implement a free trade agreement (FTA) with Costa Rica. The government also agreed to a FTA between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic. Approval of another FTA between Cuba and CARICOM was also given by Jamaica.

GOVERNMENT WILL NOT TAX BASIC FOODS—05/02/13
Dr. Peter Phillips, Jamaican Minister of Finance, says that the government does not plan to tax basic food items. Phillips made his remarks in response to Opposition comments about the removal of tax exemptions for basic food items in the tax reforms. He said that such an action would cause unnecessary hardship and that the government has not taken that policy position on the matter.

INTERIM TIVOLI REPORT, RECOMMENDATIONS ISSUED—05/03/13
Public Defender Earl Witter has issued an interim report on incidents that occurred in Tivoli Gardens during a state of emergency in May 2010. The report has called for a thorough inquiry into the actions of security forces and gunmen. Emphasized in the report were provisional claims for 688 individuals who submitted 1,295 documented complaints and are qualified for over $110.8 million. Witter wants Owen Ellington, police commissioner and chief of defense staff at the time of the Tivoli incidents, and Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, along with other top personnel, to testify about their oversight of the activities before a judicial tribunal.

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