Caribbean News Round – up

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Cuba pardons 9 incarcerated Jamaicans

PardonKINGSTON, Jamaica –The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade today advised that nine of the 11 Jamaicans incarcerated in Cuba, have been pardoned by the Cuban Government and will return to Jamaica in the coming days.

“In an announcement on September 11, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba advised that, on the occasion of the upcoming visit to Cuba of Pope Francis, some 3,522 prisoners would be granted pardons,” the ministry said in a press release.

According to the release, the decision was taken by the Council of State on the basis of criteria determined by the responsible ministries of the Cuban Government.

The nine Jamaicans who have been pardoned include eight men and one woman who were held for various offences, including possession of drugs and trafficking.

Minimum sentences handed down for such crimes start at 10 years and can exceed 25 years, the release continued.

“The ministry recognises with appreciation this gesture of goodwill by the Cuban Government,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said.

 

Caricom supplies Dominica with solar lanterns

lanternGEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat, has provided the government of Dominica with 400 emergency LED Solar Lanterns as part of disaster response activities following the devastation left behind by Tropical Storm Erika last month.

The lanterns are powered through a built in solar cell and are designed with back up battery and “hand cranking” charging options. They provide light through energy efficient LED bulbs and include a built- in USB port, which makes them capable of charging mobile phones and other electronic devices.

The lanterns are an appropriate fit to the post disaster activities and, upon exposure to six hours of sunlight, provides lighting and power for communication devices, which can simultaneously improve the situation of residents and assist emergency field workers in the discharge of their tasks.

Dominica was the most severely impacted among the Caricom Member States on which Tropical Storm Erika unleashed torrential rain on August 27 with continuous rainfall measuring 10 inches over a 6-hour period.

The Caricom Energy Programme has pledged to continue supporting Dominica and will assist with the integration of sustainable energy designs into the post disaster rebuilding process.

The contributions are being supported by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (REETA) Project, which is being financed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and based in the Caricom Secretariat here.

 

Venezuela extends state of emergency to third border state

President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro
President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro

[BBC] – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced he will extend a state of emergency to another 10 municipalities on the border with Colombia.

Three of them are in Apure state. The others are in the state of Zulia, parts of which had already been placed under a state of emergency. The move is part of a crackdown on crime near the border, where smugglers and guerrilla groups are active.

The crackdown has heightened tensions between Venezuela and Colombia. The president did not say if border posts in Apure would also be closed as they have been in the states of Tachira and Zulia.

Under the Venezuelan constitution, a state of emergency can be declared if the security of the country, its citizens or its institutions are at risk. It temporarily restricts some constitutional rights and allows security forces to search homes without a warrant.

President Maduro took the measure after three soldiers and a civilian were injured in an attack in San Antonio del Tachira near the border last month.

The 2,200km-long border (1,400 miles) between is porous and there has historically been a steady flow of people both ways.

It is also a haven for smugglers, who make an easy profit buying subsidised goods cheaply in Venezuela and selling them at much higher prices in Colombia.

The Venezuelan government estimates that up to 40% of goods it subsidies are lost to smuggling, exacerbating shortages of key products. Locals have also complained about being extorted by gangs and Colombia’s left-wing guerrilla groups.

Last month Venezuelan security forces deported about 1,400 Colombians they said were living in Venezuela illegally.

Another 20,000 are estimated to have left Venezuela out of fear of deportation. Some said they had been mistreated by the Venezuelan security forces, prompting Colombia to recall its ambassador from Caracas in protest. Venezuela later recalled its ambassador from Bogota.

Tension between the two neighbours rose further when Colombia said that Venezuelan military jets had made incursions into Colombian airspace on Saturday and Sunday.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said that there was no evidence of any such incursions. Writing on Twitter [in Spanish], she also said that she was “concerned about the systematic tendency of the Colombian government to invent incidents that don’t exist to hurt relations”.Venezuela

But the tone used by the two countries’ leaders did soften on Tuesday. Speaking in the border town of Paraguachon, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said progress had been made on a number of issues, including the reunification of families separated by the closure of the border.

He said that an important step had been taken on the road to a meeting between the two presidents. Speaking on his television programme on Tuesday, President Maduro said he was ready to meet his Colombian counterpart “wherever, whenever and by any means”.

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