Caribbean RoundUp

UN General Assembly Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.
Associated Press/Kevin Hagen


Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne criticizing the trade embargo placed on Venezuela by the United States, is calling on CARICOM leaders to approach Caracas for assistance in dealing with the rising cost of energy products.
Browne said that the sanctions by Washington on the South American country are negatively affecting the wider region and, personally, he is unperturbed by the consequences of defying US threats against those who deal with Venezuela.
The sanctions restrict the Venezuelan government to US debt and equity markets. It also includes the state run PDVSA.
In August 2019, then President Donald Trump imposed additional sanction on Venezuela ordering a freeze on all government assets in the US and barred transactions with US citizens and companies.
Last month, Washington announced it was moving to ease a few economic sanctions on Venezuela in a gesture meant to encourage resumed negotiations between the US-backed opposition and the government of President Nicholas Maduro.
Browne said given the escalating price of oil on the global market, a PetroCaribe initiative that Venezuela had in place since 2005 could be helpful in allowing the region to navigate the current situation.
Under the PetroCaribe, energy initiative launched by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005, Venezuela supplied crude oil to countries in the Caribbean region at discounted prices with those countries paying for a certain percentage of oil, depending on world oil prices within 90 days and the remainder is paid over a 25-year period with an interest rate of one percent annually. Part of the cost also may be offered by the provision of goods or services.
The Bahamas Christian Council of Churches (BCC) says it is prepared to support efforts by the government to tighten the law to provide protection against rape for spouses in the period between legal separation and divorce.
BCC President, Delton Fernandez said it was the clergy’s understanding that marital rape frequently occurs during the time and the church would stand behind tighten the law  to ensure there are penalties for this kind of abuse.
But he acknowledged while the BCC awaits meeting with the government, the church remains generally divided when it comes to marital rape.
Fernandez said  while the church understand some of the legal minds are saying this can be attacked in a different clause “We want to make it plain, we have an understanding when we walk away Is this the only way this can’t be dealt with?”
Belize says it will not allow charter flights from Haiti to land in the country, warning also it is prepared to reverse position of allowing Haitians to come to the country without a visa.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Courtenay said the decision follow reports about “corrupt and abusive mafia men using chartered flights out of Haiti to smuggle Haitians visitors to arrive in Belize.”
In recent times there have been several requests for chartered flights carrying Haitian visitors to arrive in Belize.
However, the authorities in Haiti said those aircraft would not be allowed to touch down at the Phillip SW Goodson International Airport because many of those on board were arriving with one-way tickets.
They said, in addition,  the Haitians do not have hotel arrangements and end up being smuggled out of the country en route to the United States.
Courtenay said the repatriation of Cuban nationals who have entered the country illegally, poses an immigration and foreign affairs challenge for government officials.
The authorities said the Cubans cannot be deported through another country and, since Cuba is an island nation, arrangements have to be made for them to be returned directly.
Earlier this week, the High Court dismissed a case brought on behalf of seven Cuban nationals that their fundamental rights were violated while in detention, and ordered that the authorities implement the removal order as soon as it is practicable.
The group of seven adults arrived here with two children on Feb. 6, claiming to be seeking asylum. The children had been placed in the care of the Department of Human Services since the adults were detained.
Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Jerome Walcott had officially opened the CARICOM diplomatic mission in Nairobi making it the first for the 15-member regional integration movement on the African continent.
“The commissioning of this mission here in Kenya, the first diplomatic mission of Barbados to be commissioned on the African continent, is a testament of Barbados’ outreach to the motherland and cradle of civilization, where many of our ancestors were born,” Walcott said at the CARICOM’s new office in the South Tower of the Two Rivers Office Complex.
“Barbados, at this time, looks to Africa in pursuit of new relationships and partners with the aim of deepening engagement and cooperation with like-minded nations both bilaterally and multilaterally,” he added.
Walcott, said that this latest development is the result of a continued commitment to co-operation made between the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley and President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, described the opening of the mission as a fulfillment of a promise to secure a home for the Caribbean community in Kenya, made by President Kenyatta during his visit to Barbados in 2019.
Guyana’s two main opposition parties have called for an independent international criminal investigation after Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo last Sunday fended off fresh allegations that he had taken bribes from Chinese investors.
Jagdeo has already indicated that he intends to take take legal action against Guyana-based based Chinese businessman, Su Zhi Rong for sullying his name and engaging in extortion.
“Su denied having said this. Now, I have seen the release that he has actually said this so now I’ll have to ensure that I take some steps in regard to dealing  with that because he has used his friendship to basically leverage it and in so doing destroying my reputation and extorting investors,” Jagdeo told the Demerara Waves Online News and News Talk Radio Guyana 103.1FM.
But in separate statements, the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Alliance For Congress (AFC), that formed the majority parties  in the last coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)  government here, both called for the independent investigations, while expressing concern about alleged acts of corruption in the government.
In a statement after the broadcast on the US Channel, Showtime, Forte said that the revelations were “explosive” and “damning” and that no amount of denial and public relations spin can remove or wash the latest scandal away. He said  that there should be an independent investigation and the vice president needs to resign.
In its statement, the AFC said “in light of the damning report by Showtime, a US cable news network in awarding procurement contracts, the Alliance For Change(AFC) calls for an immediate independent investigation and audit into the procurement and awarding of contracts in Guyana.”
Jagdeo had published on Feb. 7, 2022 the television interview that he had done with VICE News and in which is stated that Su had made the allegations against him, Su denied that he had accused Jagdeo of corruption. However, in the programme broadcast last Sunday, Su said that he heard allegations that monies are paid to Jagdeo.
Governor of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Richard Jules has urged people using cryptocurrencies or who are contemplating it, to do so cautiously.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the recently concluded Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference, Byles  said the institution is mindful to advise individuals of the unpredictable nature of cryptocurrencies’ value.
A cryptocurrency is a digital currency designed to function as a medium of exchange that is not reliant on any central authority, such as a government or bank, to uphold or maintain it. Examples of these are Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Conversely, a central bank digital currency (CBDC) is the digital form of a country’s fiat (government- issued) currency that is not backed by a physical commodity such as gold or silver.
Byles said he regards cryptocurrencies as more of an investment instrument “because their value is not sufficiently stable to be a good means of payment,” as is the case with CBDC.
“So, if you’re, hopefully,  a sophisticated investor who can understand cryptocurrency,  go ahead an use it. But we don’t see it as a currency that is good for transactions and for making payments,” he argued.
Byles said the BOJ continues to advise individuals that” we only back our Central (Bank) Digital Currency, it’s not backed by any private investor.
The Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference was hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in down town Kingston from June 14 to 16, under the theme: Reigniting a Nation Fit For Greatness.
Trinidad’s and Tobago Central Bank  last week warned that the “windfall” of energy revenues the country is currently receiving is temporary and should be used to fund the adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The comments came in the Central Bank’s May 2022 Monetary Policy Report, which was published yesterday,  as public sector trade unions gear up to continue negotiations with the government over new salary packages.
“Recent high international energy prices have boosted the public finances and external accounts, creating a welcome space for financing further adjustments to the lingering effects of the pandemic,” the report states.
It said domestically, higher crude oil and petrochemical production contributed to a return to positive growth in energy sector activity during the fourth quarter of 2021. The end of COVID-19 restrictions boosted business operations in some non-energy sectors while inflation, through rising, remains relatively contained.
According to the Central Bank, export earnings ate estimated to have more than doubled, rising by 101percent to US$3,384.4 million over the final quarter of 2021, mainly reflecting higher energy exports.
“Buoyed by climbing energy commodity prices, energy exports increased by US$1,723.7 million  to US$2,839.1 million. In particular, crude oil prices average US$77.34 per barrel over the last three months of 2021, compared to US$42.56 per barrel in the comparative period of 2020.”
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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