Caribbean News Round-up

Protesters in anti-government demonstrations on the streets of Port-au-Prince

Crime rising because it pays – Contractors Association

crime[Trinidad Express] – CRIME is increasing in Trinidad and Tobago because it is profitable and enjoys impunity, and not because of poverty or unemployment, Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association president Mikey Joseph has said.

He was speaking on Thursday evening at a University of the West Indies (UWI) post-budget forum in St Augustine.

He said: “I believe crime in Trinidad and Tobago, today, is on the increase, or is being sustained and maintained, because it is profitable. That is why we have crime. If they take the profit out of crime by proper detection, arrests and incarceration of criminals, crime is going to go down. That is the long and short of it. We cannot continue to fool ourselves into believing that crime is linked to unemployment or economic activity because Trinidad and Tobago has had for the past ten to 15 years enough money to satisfy everybody, even through make-work programmes. Crime exists because it is profitable.”

Joseph had other messages for the mostly-Economics students.


Witnesses: Pre-election violence flaring up in Haiti slum

Protesters in anti-government demonstrations on the streets of Port-au-Prince
Protesters in anti-government demonstrations on the streets of Port-au-Prince

[AP] – Deadly pre-election violence has flared up in and around Haiti’s most notorious slum and resulted in the killings of two pregnant women and at least 13 other people in the densely-populated district of shacks, community organizers and politicians said Monday.

Official numbers of the slain around the mazelike network of Cite Soleil were hard to pin down. Spokespeople with the Haitian National Police and the U.N. mission in Haiti did not respond to Monday phone calls or said they did not immediately have specifics.

But Esau Bouchard, a government-appointed mayor in Cite Soleil, said at least 10 people were killed within the district’s boundaries over the last few days and others that he described as gangsters were gunned down in shootouts with police in an outskirts community known as Wharf Jeremie. He told Radio Solidarite that the violence appeared to be politically motivated.

According to Bouchard, authorities were trying to capture gang members creating mayhem “so we can create a secure climate for elections to happen” in the deeply impoverished ghetto of a few hundred thousand people. Some 2,000 people fled their homes out of fear starting Friday, but he said that a measure of order was gradually being restored.

The deadly violence in the long-troubled community on the edge of Port-au-Prince comes days ahead of national elections on Sunday when Haitians will vote in the first-round of presidential balloting and decide numerous legislative and local races. About a month ago, police said two officers were slain by gangsters in Cite Soleil.

Musician and social activist Gueldy Rene, who is from the Bwa Nef neighbourhood where much of the violence was centred over the weekend, told The Associated Press that politically-aligned gangs were feuding over money distributed by political teams looking to dominate Sunday’s balloting in the vote-heavy district.

“This is Haiti politics. Some politician gives out money and now gangs are killing people over that money,” he said, complaining that police and UN troops were “sitting around listening to gunshots” at the height of the violence rather than trying to stop the bloodshed.

Jessica Hsu, country director for Haiti Communitere, a non-profit that works with Cite Soleil residents, said the area’s struggling inhabitants were again being used as “pawns by politicians” engaged in electoral turf wars.

“In the context of Haitian elections, this is what happens every time here,” said Hsu, whose group has been working in Haiti since the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.


Venezuela leader wants economic zone for Caribbean and Latin America

Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro

[Caribbean 360] – Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro is advocating the establishment of an economic zone for the Caribbean and Latin American.

He says the economic zone should be part of a production and economic plan aimed at curbing the region’s high import bill.

During a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in Grenada over the weekend, the Venezuelan leader also suggested the establishment of a commerce and purchase agreement with Caribbean countries.

“I insist that we need to create an economic zone in the region. We need to produce locally,” Maduro said.

“We need to have a production and economic plan. Venezuela, with all its challenges, we are still importing billions. We need to curb this.”

During the talks, Prime Minister Mitchell also lamented his country’s high import bill compared to the high level of food production.

“Look at how much food we produce yet we continue to import millions of dollars. Unless we take major intervention in food security, we will not only develop agriculture but increase the health of our people,” the Grenadian leader said.

President Maduro suggested that the Caribbean and Latin America work out transportation arrangements to facilitate the movement of goods and services.

“We have to establish a commerce and purchase agreement with our Caribbean friends, where we have a production planning of what products we need and what each other can supply. Let us look inward to support each other in production,” he urged.

“Let us also work in transportation arrangement so we can move our goods and services in region.”

Maduro visit to Grenada was one of three stops in the Caribbean last weekend. The others were Suriname, St. Lucia and Antigua.

After 23 years, T.O.K calls it quits

TOK-1--Large-_w304[Jamaica Observer] – “It’s been a long time coming.” That’s the word from Roshaun ‘Bay C’ Clarke, member of dancehall quartet T.O.K, to news that Xavier ‘Flexx’ Davidson has decided to pursue a solo career.

Clarke disclosed that there has been tension within the camp for the past eight years.

“The group has been slowly imploding and I guess this is the last straw. There have been personality clashes. Craig has a very strong personality and usually says what is on his mind. Alex and Flexx have been friends forever, so they have stuck together, which has left me to always be maintaining the balance in the group,” Clarke told the Jamaica Observer.

“It has been frustrating to always be that one person holding it together. Like in any relationship, communication is key and little things have been allowed to fester and become a major issue.”

Davidson has reportedly left the group to pursue solo work under the name Double X.

T.O.K was formed 23 years ago. It comprised Clarke, Craig ‘Craigy-T’ Thompson, Alistaire ‘Alex’ McCalla, and Xavier ‘Flexx’ Davidson.

According to Clarke, the group was a “one of a kind”, bringing the boy band concept to dancehall music with a sound that ranged from his deep bass to McCalla’s tenor, and the smooth tenor voices of Thompson and Davidson in between.

He noted that their versatility enabled them to “sing everything from bad-man tune to culture and girls songs”.

One of T.O.K.’s highlights, Clarke pointed out, was reaching number four on the 106 and Park chart with the song Footprints. He also referred to their star status in Japan.

Only two weeks ago the quartet attended a private dinner at Vale Royal (the prime minister’s residence) with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Last year the group launched a reality show Taking Over.




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