Caribbean News Round – up

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Belizean teenager charged with murder of journalist

Jail-foreignBELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) – A 17-year-old teenager has been charged with the murder of journalist Kareem Clarke, who was gunned down as he rode his bicycle on a street here on July 6.

The youth, who cannot be identified, was formally arraigned for murder at the Belize Family Court after he was arrested on Monday. Police said he is well known to them.

Clarke, 27, who worked for the Amandala newspaper, was killed by the gunman who fired several shots at him as he headed home early in the morning on July 6.

Police said the 27-year-old man received gunshot wounds to his abdomen and chest and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Clarke’s mother, Julia Clarke said her son had now become a victim of the very gun violence he reported on frequently.

 

Jamaica 17th most ‘miserable’ country in the world

jam-flagKINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica was given a misery index score of 20.7 per cent and ranked the 17th most miserable country according to the Business Insider.

The score, which was taken from 2014 data available at the CIA World Factbook, was generated from a sum of the country’s inflation and unemployment rates.

The formula for the ‘Misery Index was created by Economist Arthur Okun as a means of deducing if a country is miserable. The higher the number, the more ‘miserable’ a country is deemed to be. In this case, Jamaica had an inflation rate of 7.1 per cent and an unemployment rate of 13.6 per cent.

“Jamaica’s economy relies heavily on the services sector, including tourism. Unfortunately, the country suffers from high crime and corruption and a high unemployment — which leads to more crime,” said the Business Insider.

They added that the Government is battling a two-headed hydra — it needs to achieve fiscal discipline to maintain debt payments and it wants to confront the serious crime problem.

Other countries included in the list are Venezuela which ranked number one with a misery index of 70 per cent. It was followed by Syria, Djibouti, Argentina, Yemen, Lesotho, South Africa, Macedonia, Serbia, Iran, Greece, Egypt, Mongolia, Ukraine, Spain, Croatia and Tunisia respectively.

 

Trinidad & Tobago swears in New Prime Minister

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley speaking to the media.
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley speaking to the media.

[Trinidad Express] – Dr Keith Christopher Rowley was sworn in as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago at around 1.45 p.m. on Wednesday by President Anthony Carmona.

Faris Al Rawi was sworn in as attorney general, and Edmund Dillon as Minister of National Security.

The following is the inaugural speech by Rowley after being sworn in:

Your excellency and Mrs Carmona, the honourable Chief Justice and Mrs Archie, the honourable attorney general Faris Al Rawi and Mrs Al Rawi and distinguished guests.

“It is not my intention to delay you from participating in the preparations for this afternoon. But a great place to begin in the term of office of Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago is to thank the very excellent young people for pointing us to us in lyrics which moved me.

Sometimes I am asked by persons who are very cynical in the political arena ‘why do you do it?’ Some people actually feel that we do it for ourselves, because they see us as politicians for self-serving.

What I can say is that what motivated me and continues to motivate me is the responsibility to the young people of Trinidad and Tobago. I used to work at the Seismic Research Unit at the St Augustine Comprehensive School and ever so often I would come outside and at around 2.30 quarter to three and have a rest for my eyes from looking through a microscope or some sort of thing school would be over and children would just be pouring out from out of the school, completely oblivious to the world they live in, some playing, some pushing, some laughing and going into a world with trust. I used to ask myself “who is looking out for them?” “What exactly are they going to meet?”

Eventually I entered politics, accidentally, believe it or not, and I believe that those of us who have made it have a responsibility to those who haven’t.

And if Trinidad and Tobago would be successful today in 2015 I would like to hold out to all our citizens to take a little less off the top and leave a little more on the bottom for the young ones who are growing.

So today to embark on this exercise, an assignment to have responsibility for all of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, to manage your affairs…Starting today as Prime Minister to make sure everybody else works. So therefore to selected people with all the works that continue today I want to make one appeal to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We have a lot to be thankful for, we have a lot to be grateful for. Spend a bit more time enjoying it, looking at the positive side of life. A little less complaining about how the day didn’t go well and how the rest of the week could have gone a lot better and let us try and remember who put us on this path and what they expected of us.

If we take these approaches life in Trinidad and Tobago would become a whole lot more pleasant and a whole lot more enjoyable.

“I want to thank Almighty God from bringing me from Mason Hall, from Diego Martin by way of St Augustine to all over Trinidad and Tobago to be of service to the people of TT. I want to thank those persons from the Seventh Day Adventist Day church in Mason Hall who raised me when I might have gone astray. And who are still serving value to me today. I want to thank all the people who are with me all the way – the Christians, the Muslims the Hindus and everybody else who gave me the gave advice when I entered high school – given the opportunity to take it to behave yourself and make good.

That was the advice I got in the village of Mason Hall and I tried to take it. And I think I want to consider myself a successful person. So today I give you the assurance that the team you put in place as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago would make every effort to ensure that whatever we have available to us to give us the best opportunity to be the best we can be. I ant to thank my wife in particular and my family for providing that support which allowed me to make it this far. Thank you, thank you Trinidad and Tobago for your honourable service and we will serve you to the best of our ability”.

 

Guatemala’s ex-President indicted for corruption

Otto Perez Molina
Otto Perez Molina

[BBC] – A Guatemalan judge has ordered the former president, Otto Perez Molina, to stand trial on corruption charges. Prosecutors accuse Mr Perez of masterminding a scheme where businesses bribed officials to clear their imports through customs at a low tax rate.

The scandal led to months of street protests across the country. The judge said there was sufficient evidence for Mr Perez Molina to face charges of customs fraud, racketeering and bribery.

A UN commission helped gather criminal evidence for the case which they say is based on around 89,000 wire-tapped phone calls. The scheme was dubbed “La Linea” (the line), after a telephone hotline businesses allegedly called to get in touch with corrupt officials.

Prosecutors allege the scheme collected $3.8m in bribes between May 2014 and April 2015, including $800,000 each to Mr Perez and former vice-president Roxana Baldetti, who has already been jailed.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing and has promised to co-operate with the investigation.

“Your honour, I am not going to risk my dignity, my work, nor all the effort I have made for Guatemala in return for $800,000,” he said in court earlier this week.

He resigned as president last week after Congress lifted his political immunity following months of anti-corruption protests. He will remain in jail until the trial in three months’ time.

The Vice President, Alejandro Maldonado, is acting as an interim leader until a new president takes power in January. On Sunday Guatemala held general elections.

A comic actor, Jimmy Morales won the presidential race, but fell short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff in October. He will face either former first lady Sandra Torres or centre-right businessman Manuel Baldizon.

Mr Baldizon had been a favourite to win but Mr Morales saw a late surge of support in opinion polls off the back of the unfolding corruption scandal. Several of Mr Baldizon’s allies had been linked to the scandal.

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