Caribbean RoundUp

President Mohamed Irfaan Ali addresses nationals at a diaspora town hall meeting at the Hotel Liberty Inn & Suites in Queens. Photo by Tangerine Clarke
Photo by Tangerine Clarke, file


Barbados has submitted a document urging the World Trade Organization (WTO) to support small-scale and artisanal fisheries in the country. The documentary submission was shared recently as part of the ongoing negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies and is entitled ‘The Barbadian Matriarchy of Fishing.’

Barbadian Ambassador to the WTO Matthew Wilson said the video intends to highlight why fisheries matter for Barbadian livelihoods, food security, and women’s economic empowerment, also showing why there is special and differential treatment being requested for women.

“It will help you understand why Barbados takes the positions we do in this room and what we mean when we say small-scale and artisanal.”

“You will see why we say unduly restricting our fisheries sector potential is counter- productive and that we need to address unsustainable practices by distant water fishers that have risked the health of our yields,”  Wilson said.

‘The Barbadian Matriarchy of Fishing’ video supports the acknowledgement, honoring, and preservation of culture and identity through story- telling on knowledge, wisdom, and skills in the fisheries industry in Barbados.

It also highlights that in Barbados, the harvest sector is male dominated with female participation accounting for less than 1 percent of the workforce.



The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has launched a five- year strategy for the Caribbean that will be implemented in its strategic 2023- 27 plan.

IACHR said it will promote understanding and use of its mechanisms, observance and guarantees of human rights by states, and increased protection and defence for victims of human rights violations.

It added, that the IACHR will co-operate with public institutions on the promotion of human rights and will assist social actors in enhancing their capabilities.

“The right to a healthy environment will be given special attention, and the Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights will work with member states to address the implications of climate change actions for the enjoyment of human rights.

“The Office of the Special Rapporteurship, on Freedom of Expression will continue to monitor the situation of journalists and media environment in the region and to promote freedom of expression in the Caribbean,” said the IACHR.



Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali is to appoint a Constitutional Reform Commission following the debate on the national budget, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, has said.

“Earnestly, I can safely say that after these budget proceedings are concluded, His Excellency shall move to appoint the constitutional reform commission, and this is the building in which that commission will be housed. It is already furnished and ready for occupation by the secretariat and the commission,” he told reporters.

He said that while the national budget last year had provided allocations for the establishment of the commission, several factors have hindered its establishment, including the tensions between Guyana and Venezuela concerning the on-going border controversy.

The Constitutional Reform Act was approved in 2022 and provides for the establishment of the commission, which is expected to lead nationwide engagements on the much-needed process.

The 20-member commission will be drawn from political parties, five from the ruling party People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), four from the main opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and one from A New and United Guyana (ANUG). Ten people will be selected from religious groupings, the private sector, the Guyana Bar Association, the National Toshaos Council, the labor movement, women’s organizations as well as nominees representing farmers and youths.



The Haitian government recently announced a crackdown on a state environmental department whose heavily armed agents have grown more powerful in recent months and were blamed for violent clashes with police not too long ago.

The government ordered all workers with the National Agency for Protected Areas to report themselves to the nearest office of the Ministry of the Environment so they can be registered.

Authorities also announced that no armed environmental agents are allowed to circulate within towns or cities, without exceptions, “in order to improve the security climate of the country and to bring peace and tranquillity for all Haitians.”

The crackdown comes almost a week after the administration of Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced the restructuring of the National Agency for Protected Areas given what it called “serious problems of institutional dysfunction.”

The head of the agency, Jeantel Joseph, was dismissed as part of the restructuring, prompting armed environmental agents in Haiti’s northern region to protest the decision and demand Henry’s resignation as they exchanged fire with police recently.

The agents work for a division known as the Security Brigade for Protected Areas that falls under the national agency.



The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) says Jamaica’s unemployment rate for October 2023 declined to a historical low of 4.2 per cent. It said that 1,320,000 Jamaicans were employed in October at that time and is the highest number of people employed in the country’s history.

STATIN said that the October unemployment rate is an improvement on the 4.5 percent that was recorded in both April and July 2023. Based on the latest labor force survey, there were 1,320,400 employed people in Jamaica in October.

The unemployment rate for males and females are significantly down compared to previous years. The unemployment rate for young people between the ages 14-24 years was 12.6 percent.

STATIN noted that in October 2023, the unemployment rate for males 14 to 24 years was 9.9 percent and 15.9 percent for females within the same age group.

STATIN also indicated that there has been a decrease in the number of people outside the labor force.

STATIN said the largest increase in employment by occupation group was in ‘Service Workers and Shop and Market Sales Workers.’ The largest increases by industry group were in real estate and other business services and construction.


St. Lucia

Health authorities have confirmed three deaths linked to the COVID-19 virus between Jan. 12-25 as the island records an increase in the number of people presenting with flu-like illnesses at emergency departments, wellness centres and private doctors’ offices.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs said the increase in cases is due to new variants, influenza A and B and respiratory syncytial virus, and that over the last 14 days an increase in hospitalisations and deaths due to covid19 were also noted.

The ministry said it has begun preparation in the event that cases continue to increase and that hospitals are on alert to ensure supplies, equipment and medication is available.

“PCR and rapid testing are available free of charge to the public at the various wellness centers and community hospitals and polyclinic.

“The regional public health agencies are working to source and supply the region with the necessary vaccines,” it added:

The announcement by the health authorities comes as the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) expressed some level of concern at people easing on their surveillance mechanisms and early warning systems.

— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan