Caribbean RoundUp

Jamaica Maroon Heritage
Gloria “Mama G” Simms, right, a Maroon spiritual leader, dances with a young man in the Asafu Yard in Charles Town, eastern Jamaica. Jamaica’s Maroons are increasingly showcasing their unique culture for visitors in hopes that heritage tourism will guarantee jobs for the young generation and preserve what remains of their centuries-old practices.
Associated Press/David McFadden
The Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) has confirmed that some workers have forfeited their jobs, even as almost 100 percent of them have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
ABHTA Executive Chairman, Vernon Jeffers acknowledged that letters had been sent to those workers who had not been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus informing them they have forfeited their jobs.
The affected workers had been given a one month grace period in which to comply with the vaccination mandate for the sector.
Jeffers said he does not expect there would be too great a disruption among the hotels since more than 90 percent of hospitality workers have been vaccinated.
The affected workers have been informed that payment for any outstanding vacation due will be processed in the usual manner.
The government said that public sector workers would not be given a salary or wage for the period of non-compliance with the current policy.
The  Barbados Defense Force (BDF) says that since the start of the year, there has been a significant increase in the trafficking trade and this has led to the seizure of a quantity of drugs, weapons and vessels.
According to the BDF, during the period Jan. 1 – Oct. 13 2021, the Maritime Unit, the Barbados Coast Guard (BCG) and the Barbados Defense Force (BDF) seized 5,895 pounds of marijuana; 183 lbs of cocaine and nine vessels.
In addition, 28 non-nationals and  seven citizens from Barbados were held.
The BDF said these statistics compared to the year 2020, reflect an 11 percent and 50 percent increase in marijuana and cocaine interdictions, respectively. Additionally, they highlighted a 467 percent increase in the number of non-nationals arrested in connection to these related crimes.
The BDF also stated that in the maritime domain and given the effects of the of the global pandemic, “there have been particular challenges to combat the illegal narcotics trade, adding that due to inter-agency efforts, locally and regionally, disruptions and seizures in this sector have been successful.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says the Caribbean’s travel and tourism sector is recovering at a faster rate than any other region in the world, with its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) expected to rise more than 47percent this year, compared to just 30.7 globally
WTC President and CEO, Julie Simpson said, “our research clearly shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is slowly beginning to recover from the ravages of COVID-19, the Caribbean is recovering much faster than any other region.”
She said last year, the COVID-19 pandemic stole almost a quarter of all  travel and tourism jobs from the region but due to a significant increase in international and domestic spending, both jobs and GDP are on the rise.
According to the research, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP and the rise in jobs could be more positive this year and next, if four vital measures are met by governments around the world.
The WTC, which represents the global travel and tourism and private sector, said that the sector globally has been hindered by the lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and  slower vaccination rates.
The Guyana government has urged people living with HIV to get vaccinated so as to protect themselves against the COVID-19 virus.
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said this was important because the immune system of a person living with HIV was more susceptible to the virus, especially if that person was not on medication.
He said it was recommended that persons with HIV take the COVID vaccine because it was going to protect them.
The health minister noted that the benefits of being vaccinated far outweighed the risk of not being vaccinated and in some cases, persons whose immune systems are compromised it was also recommended that they get a third dose of the vaccine or a booster shot.
Anthony advised people with  HIV to follow the recommended protocols as the general population, so as to guard against contracting the disease.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers recently met in Miami to discuss the ongoing socio-economic and political situation in Haiti, and to examine possible ways of intervention, according to a statement issued by the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat.
It said the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) met to discuss “the situation in Haiti and possible modes of intervention by CARICOM to assist a Haiti-driven solution were explored.”
The statement gave no further details on the matter, but in recent months Haiti had been facing a series of situations, including the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, the postponement of presidential and legislative elections and recently the kidnapping of several foreigners, including 17 American missionaries and children — the latest wave of criminal activities.
The statement said the two-day meeting was the first in-person of COFCOR since the onset of the of the COVID-19 pandemic in January last year, bringing together ministers who had assumed office over the past 18 months and their colleagues. It was hosted by the Consul General of Jamaica.
The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has criticized the decision of the St. Lucia government to lift the state of emergency (SoE) as the island continues to grapple with the effect effect of COVID-19.
It said in light of the revocation, the government has proceeded to rely solely on the COVID-19 Control and Prevention Act to prohibit the assembly of two or more persons in a public place and to confined “a person to their place of residence,” in the interest of public health.
The UWP, which lost the last general election in July, said under the constitution, St. Lucians are entitled to certain rights and freedoms that are the subject of discussion are Section 11- Freedom of Assembly and Section 12- Freedom of Movement.
Recently Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre, indicated that St. Lucians will have to live with the COVID-19 pandemic for the “foreseeable future,” announced an end to the SoE that had been put in place by the last administration.
On Oct. 16 the SoE ended and the government ended it.
The UWP said it is calling on the prime minister to immediately reinstate the State of Emergency as the current protocols restricting people’s movement and freedom of assembly are illegal and ultra vires the Constitution.
St. Lucia has recorded 236 deaths and 12,228 positive cases linked to the COVID-19 pandemic since the first case was detected in March last year.
The Trinidad and Tobago Government plans to spend US$2 billion in the coming years as part of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas and climate change action.
At the United Nations Pre-Conference of Parties (COP 26) seminar on “Transition to the Green Economy” last week.
Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs, Stuart Young said the initiatives were part of an overall plan of reducing emission from three sectors by 15 percent or 103 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.
He said the estimated cost of meeting this objective is US$2 billion which is expected to be met partly through domestic funding and conditional on international financing including through the Green Climate Fund.
Young said that the ministry was working with its stakeholders including the University of the West Indies and the University of Trinidad an Tobago for other resourceful means towards a  green economy.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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