CARIBBEAN LIFE ALREADY IMPACTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE—09/07/13
Scientists say that rising sea levels could cause contamination of fresh water resources in the Caribbean, while changing climate patterns also result in less rain falling to supply the reservoirs in coming years. Experts say that the amount of drinking water in the region has already been affected by climate change. According to Lystra Fletcher-Paul, a land and water officer for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there is no choice but to take action because future water resources will not be available. Some areas in the Caribbean have experienced an unusual drought that began in 2012.
JUDGE IN GUYANA CLARIFIES ANTI-CROSS-DRESSING RULE—09/08/13
A judge in Guyana has interpreted a law making cross-dressing a criminal offense. The law, which dates from the colonial era, has now been interpreted to mean that cross-dressing will be considered a crime only if it is done for an “improper purpose” like prostitution. While this represents a partial victory for gay rights activists in the country, they want the entire statute to be eliminated. The Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination says the court’s ruling means that police are allowed to continue arresting cross-dressers and transgender citizens for ambiguous reasons.
CUBA APPROVES DIRECT PRIVATE FARM SALES IN TOURISM SECTOR—09/09/13
The Cuban government has decided that it will permit independent farmers to sell directly to tourist restaurants and hotels. Previously, private growers have been required to go through state-operated distributors to supply these types of businesses. The change represents another step in the gradual economic and social reforms implemented by President Raul Castrol.
FUEL SUBSIDY FOR AIRLINE REMOVED—09/10/13
Caribbean Airlines, which is based in Trinidad and Tobago, will no longer receive government subsidies for fuel as of October 1, 2013. The subsidy for the Tobago air bridge will continue. Larry Howal, Finance Minister, stated that the airline must take steps toward adopting a financially sound business model and position the company in certain areas of the international tourism market. The fuel subsidy totals about $300 million.
FOUR MEN FROM ST. VINCENT ADRIFT AT SEA FOR 12 DAYS—09/11/13
According to a report from the United States Coast Guard, four men from St. Vincent and the Grenadines were rescued after drifting in the Caribbean Sea for some 12 days. The men had been traveling from a small island to the nation’s main island of St. Vincent when their outboard engine died. They were found on the 30-foot boat in rough seas 12 days later, appearing to be in good health.
NO INCREASE IN TICKET PRICES FOR CAL—09/12/13
Caribbean Airlines Ltd. confirmed that it will not raise ticket prices, despite the fact that its government-sponsored fuel subsidies will end. The state-owned airline carrier, which received a subsidy of about US$40 million in 2012, will no longer receive these funds after October 1, 2013.
MARIJUANA FARMS NOW OFFERING TOURS—09/11/13
Tourists in Jamaican can now sample various cannabis strains during tours of the island’s pot farms. Growers on the island have begun to provide ganja tours for cannabis connoisseurs. Similar to tours of the wine region, ganja tours travel to places like Nine Mile, home of Bob Marley and offer smokers a taste of the original sinsemilla strain that was a favorite of the reggae legend. American, German and Russian tourists are happy to pay $50 to tour the farm and sample this crop. Travelers are required to smoke a marijuana “spliff” with the tour guide before taking the tour to show they are not members of law enforcement.
BRAWL AT JAIL LEAVES ONE PRISONER DEAD, OFFICERS INJURED—09/12/13
One prisoner died and several Jamaica Constabulary Force officers were injured when a fight broke out at a police station jail. One officer was hospitalized in serious condition due to repeated blows to the head with a baton seized by a prisoner. The melee in Mandeville began when officers were escorting prisoners to court. Prisoners overwhelmed officers as they exited the holding area, and the violence spread from there.
REMARK ABOUT GIVING OUT WORK CONCERNS GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE—09/13/13
Edmund Bartlett, the chairperson of the Jamaican Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), said the remarks by committee member Richard Parchment were “dangerous.” Parchment said he “gave out (government) work” in his constituency. The remark was dangerous because members are not allowed to do this, said Bartlett. Parchment is the MP for South East St. Elizabeth.
PRIME MINISTER CAUTIONS AGAINST CRITICIZING CHINESE INVESTMENT—09/13/13
Some Jamaicans have questioned the motives of China in making a growing number of investments in the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica. Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called for “caution” on these criticisms, however. Before criticizing China, people should consider their own investment in Jamaica, she said. Those who criticize are free to invest in the country’s development. China has recently agreed to provide funds for building two new schools and will provide a grant of $16 million for development project. It will also make a loan totaling $300 million to Jamaica’s new infrastructure development program.