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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending June 28th, 2013

28 Jun

FILM PRODUCTION BIG IN CARIBBEAN—06/22/13
The Caribbean region is increasingly sought out as a location for film production. In the past, many films have used countries like the Dominican Republic as backdrops for their stories, but never became the chief destination for filmmakers. However, this is changing, and the Dominican Republic, which appointed its first national film commission in 2012, is now in a position to offer film firms significant breaks as a lure.
FIRST CARIBBEAN NASCAR DRIVER HOPES TO REMAIN IN THE LEAD—06/23/13
Victor Gonzalez, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the first Caribbean driver in a Sprint Cup race, is trying to win a place in history. He will drive in the Toyota/Save Mart 3/50 at Sonoma Raceway. By doing so, he is participating in the biggest and most popular of the sport’s professional series. Gonzalez has been racing for about 20 years. He was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Dominican Republic. He wants to encourage others in the Caribbean to pursue racing as a sport.

HAITI RECEIVES GRANT TO IMPROVE WATER SERVICES—06/24/13
Haiti has received a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank to improve services for drinking water in Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital city. The grant totals $35.5 million and will support a program that was developed in 2010 in partnership between the bank and the Spanish Cooperation Fund in Water and Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean. The water systems in Haiti are inadequate and foster the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera.

CARIBBEAN NATIONS WORRY ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE DANGERS—06/25/13
Jamaica is being impacted by rising water levels of just eight inches. These few inches have caused parts of the island to disappear, which represents a danger to people’s jobs and lives. According to Conrad Douglas, a Jamaican scientist, some have predicted that Barbuda could disappear in 40 years, but Jamaica is already seeing its environment impacted by climate change in the area of Pedro Cays. One of the four cays has already disappeared, endangering seabird nesting areas and species of turtles. The area is the top producer and exporter of Queen Conch in the Caribbean.

SUNRISE AIRWAYS TO EXPAND SERVICE TO JAMAICA, TURKS AND CAICOS—06/26/13
Sunrise Airways of Haiti is planning to expand its services to include Kingston, Jamaica, and Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. Sunrise operates 19-seat planes and is served by hub operations in San Juan. The startup airline was created in 2009 and launched scheduled flights to Haiti in 2012.

DRUG TRAFFICKING INCREASES IN CARIBBEAN, SAYS U.S.—06/27/13
Assistant United States Secretary of State William Brownfield stated that there has been an increase in the amount of illegal drugs that enters the U.S. from the Caribbean. He said this indicates that drug cartels are looking for new routes as authorities clamp down on Mexican and Central American pathways. In 2012, nine percent of all illegal drugs entering the U.S. came from the Caribbean. In 2011, only between four and five percent of the drugs came in through that route.

GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST CHALLENGES JAMAICA’S ANTI-SODOMY LAW—06/25/13
Javed Jaghai, an outreach worker for the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays, the only gay rights group in the country, received his first court hearing in his attempt to challenge a colonial-era anti-sodomy law on constitutional grounds. The 1854 law was heard in Jamaica’s Supreme Court, which gave the nation’s attorney general until the middle of September 2013 to respond to the challenge. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for October 2013.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS RETURN TO WORK—06/26/13
Jamaica’s air traffic controllers returned to work after holding a “sick-out” in protest of pay arrangements. The two-day protest action required the civil aviation agency to call in supervisors to operate the control towers; safety was not compromised at the island’s airfields and international airports as a result. The Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers’ Association continues to demand an increase in salary, noting the “severe stress” of the job and a significant need for higher pay.

TAX COLLECTION TO IMPROVE IN JAMAICA—06/27/13
The House of Representatives of Jamaica enacted the Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act on June 19, 2013, in response to concerns about some of the law’s provisions. The new law will make major improvements in the ability of tax officials to collect taxes. Tax evasion is a large problem on the island, said Patrick Atkinson, attorney general. The new legislation gives the Commissioner General of Tax Administration Jamaica the authorities to demand useful information, facilitate efficient exercise of investigative powers, and enhance enforcement efforts.

JAMAICA TO BAN SMOKING IN PUBLIC AREAS—06/28/13
Jamaica will soon ban all smoking in public spaces, said Fenton Ferguson, the nation’s Health Minister. Businesses now have six months to display “No Smoking” signs in public areas, and all tobacco products will also need to display new warnings about the health effects of smoking.

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