Caribbean RoundUp

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.
Associated Press/Kevin Hagen, File
Some stakeholders have expressed concern over the way this year’s carnival festival will be executed by the government of Antigua.
Several key events, including the steelband contest Panorama have been axed from the usual line-up and a new route for the parade was announced by the Cabinet recently. One key player, Dave Lester Payne, who runs the Golden Eye Calypso Tent, also revealed recently that the long-standing pre-carnival event would not be executed this year due to circumstances beyond his control.
CEO of Ali and Associates Mas Troupe, Alister Thomas, who is also United Progressive Party candidate for St. John City West, shared his view that a different administration would have ensured that local produced mas costumes be in included in the celebrations.
Thomas,who has been producing authentic mas costumes for events including the Children’s Carnival over 20 years, said he along with other carnival contributors are still owed thousand of dollars from previous years.
“We spend sometimes in the region of $100,000 getting our children on the road,” he said.
Barbados has confirmed its first case of the monkeypox virus, with officials indicating the island is fully prepared to handle any case of the virus that has already been detected in two other CARICOM countries — Jamaica and The Bahamas.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding Edghill in a statement said, “the case is of a Barbadian national in his 30s, who attended the Winston Scott Polyclinic with symptoms of a progressive rash with body pains and fever.”
“He sought medical attention at the Polyclinic within hours of his arrival in Barbados. The patient was seen and assessed based on a history of recent travel and the clinical manifestations. The patient was swabbed and the samples were sent to the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory for testing where the results revealed a positive case of monkeypox.”
Edghill said the results of the locally done test were obtained within 24 hours, as “against the days awaiting results when the tests were done by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness has commenced contact tracing as a responsible public health.  Let me assure the public that the ministry is fully prepared to handle any case of monkeypox  in our nation.”
The minister said the patient remains in isolation and is under direct care and medical supervision.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have agreed on new modern Multilateral Air Service Agreement (MASA) that will allow for a new framework within which air transportation will operate in the region, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves has said.
He told a news conference at the end of the recent 43rd CARICOM Summit held in Paramaribo, Suriname that countries, particularly those in the Eastern Caribbean and even Trinidad and Tobago, are severely affected by the loss of thousands of seats “because LIAT as it was is no longer before us.”
He said a discussion has taken place between the prime ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Guyana and I happen to know Prime Minister (Roosevelt Skerrit) of Dominica will be involved in this.
“We have taken a decision between those counties…that we are going to address the issue of a regional air carrier of some kind, may well be the revival of  LIAT in some form or the other, but we have to get a consultant in the area of aviation to put the framework together and sum numbers as a matter of urgency for us to move on,” he said.
Gonsalves said such a meeting could possibly take place in either St. Vincent and the Grenadines or St. Lucia sometime between July 28 and the end of July, to advance  this question in a very practical manner.
Police have detained two foreign nationals after a single-engine plane bearing what appear to be United States registration markings N5470Z, made an illegal landing at the Mahdia airstrip in Region 8 recently.
Police said the bags bearing the marking “King Coca 30” and  believe to be cocaine were found strapped inside the plane.
In a statement, the police said the cocaine and some marijuana were weighed by the anti-narcotics police at the Central Investigation Department headquarters in the presence of Colombian pilot, 42-year-old Rodriguez Estiven and Brazilian, co-pilot 24-year-old Mateus Viniciucs Alberto.
They said the marking, King Coca 30 on eight of the 10 bags of cocaine is similar to the King Coca — banded 973 blocks of cocaine that had been seized in South Africa last year from aboard a Panama-registered fishing vessel.
The cocaine weighed a total of 639.9 pounds and was discovered in 250 parcels while the 120.45 pounds of marijuana was found in 50 packages on the plane.
The police said the street value of the seized cocaine and the marijuana is more than Guy$84,5 million.
Investigators suspect that the plane might have been traveling from Venezuela when it made the unauthorized landing in Guyana.
The United Nations Human Rights past  week expressed concern about rising violence around Haiti’s capital, saying 99 people have been killed in recent fighting between rival gangs in the Cite Soleil district alone.
The warning came hours after the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution renewing the mandate of a UN office in the Caribbean nation. and calling on all countries to stop the transfer of small arm, light weapons and ammunition to anyone there supporting violence and criminal activity.
UN human rights agencies said they were ready to help embattled communities once it is safe to do so.
UN’s High Commissioner for refugees Jeremy Laurence said, “We have so far documents from January to the end of June, 934 killings, 684 injuries and  680 kidnappings across the capital,  he said, adding “over a five-day period from July 8 – 12, at least 234 more people were killed or injured in gang-related violence in the Cite Soliel area of the city.
He said most of the victims “were not directly involved in gangs but were targeted by them.”
The permanent representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Lou-anne Gaylene Gilchrist has assumed the chair of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) recently.
The OAS said Gilchrist  who will chair the council until Sept. 30, highlighted the role played by the two previous chairs, who are also members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), namely St. Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Ghilchrist said ” during this trimester, negotiations for the 52nd regular session of the Assembly General will occur,” she said.
” The chair, therefore, entreats delegations to negotiate in good faith, with  respect for others opinions, postures and the principles of their domestic law, as agreements are sought and consensus is built.”
The outgoing chair of the council, the permanent representative of St. Lucia, Elizabeth Darius-Clarke also noted that her successor to the  chair is a member of CARICOM.
As the murder rate continues to climb over 300 up to last week — 100 more than the same period last year.
There  have been a number of police killings, eight police officers were charged with murder last week.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said the time has come for the government to declare violence as a pubic health emergency and “We need to find solutions for treating violence with violence in our population.”
He made the comment at a press conference at Piarco International Airport shortly after his arrival from the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting in Suriname recently
Over the past week,s there have been murders all over the country, three and four a day.
He said, “If there was a disease that was killing people the way violence is affecting the population you would have no difficulty in labeling it a public health emergency.”
Rowley said the time had come to focus on the issue of violence in our population.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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