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A Massive Seaweed Bloom Is Smothering Life from the Caribbean to West Africa

By Grant Currin, Live Science Contributor | July 5, 2019

A Massive Seaweed Bloom Is Smothering Life from the Caribbean to West Africa
A huge bloom of Sargassum seaweed is clogging up the Florida Keys. Credit: Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

For eight years, thick mats of seaweed have smothered coral reefs, trapped sea turtles and brought economic instability to coastal communities as reddish-brown gobs of foul-smelling sargassum wash onto beaches along the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic.

These phenomena are symptoms of a massive seaweed bloom scientists are calling the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. Researchers describe the belt and explore its causes in a study published July 4 in the journal Science.

Stretching up to 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) from the Gulf of Mexico to just off the coast of western Africa, the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt appears to be the product of natural and human-caused factors.

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“We analyzed almost 20 years of satellite records,” Mengqiu Wang, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida and co-author on the study, told Live Science. [Earth from Above: 101 Stunning Images from Orbit]

The researchers analyzed a dataset that predates the belt’s first appearance in 2011, allowing them to investigate the long-term environmental changes that set the stage for the year-to-year variations in the growth of the bloom.

They identified a tipping point around 2009 when discharge from the Amazon River brought unusually high levels of nutrients into the Atlantic Ocean. Upwelling of nutrient-rich water off the west coast of Africa in the winter of 2010 further enriched surface waters with deep-sea nutrients; that upwelling also lowered temperatures of that surface water, allowing sargassum to thrive in the summer of 2011.

A similar combination of factors led to especially large blooms in 2014, 2015 and 2017. The largest recorded bloom occurred in 2018, when the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt grew to a mass of more than 20 million metric tons. The high levels of nutrients from the Amazon River come from deforestation and fertilizer use in the Amazon basin.

Under normal circumstances, sargassum provides critical habitat for marine life. The seaweed oases attract fish, birds and sea turtles as well. Dolphins and sea turtles also benefit from the tiny patches of life floating in the open ocean, but thick mats of sargassum pose big problems for some wildlife and coastal communities.

Mengqiu Wang was performing field work in the Gulf of Mexico last year when she saw dolphins seeming to enjoy their foray through the Sargassum.
Mengqiu Wang was performing field work in the Gulf of Mexico last year when she saw dolphins seeming to enjoy their foray through the Sargassum. Credit: University of South Florida

“As sargassum decays it consumes the oxygen, creating low oxygen conditions, which is not a good condition for marine life in a coastal ecosystem,” Wang said. Coral reefs and seagrass ecosystems can suffer when high levels of sargassum change water chemistry and block organisms from moving freely.

“Sea turtles sometimes can’t swim through the dense mats to return to open water after laying their eggs,” she said.

The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt is also having an effect on coastal tourism. Barbados declared a state of emergency in 2018, according to a government statement, as sargassum piled onto the beaches the island nation relies upon to draw tourists.

“The negative impacts occur when sargassum starts to pile up on the beaches,” Wang said. In addition to disrupting coastal ecosystems, decaying sargassum releases hydrogen sulfide, a potentially harmful gas that smells like rotten eggs.

Originally published on Live Science.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

CDB moves closer to finalising youth policy and strategy

CDB moves closer to finalising youth policy and strategy

by STAFF WRITER

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul. 4, CMC- The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says that is moving closer to finalising its first Youth Policy and Operational Strategy (YPOS), which will guide its youth-related investments in the Region.

Stakeholders from 17 of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs)  recently met here for a regional workshop to discuss recommendations coming from the consultations and youth study the Bank has been conducting to inform and shape the YPOS.

The workshop brought together a range of stakeholders in youth development, including permanent secretaries, directors of youth, youth leaders, and representatives from academia and development organisations.

Director of Projects at CDB, Daniel Best noted that the Bank has provided over US$1-billion for youth development programmes and projects over its nearly 50 years of existence, but has not, to date, adopted a dedicated policy and strategy to guide these investments.

“Despite encouraging results from projects which impact our youth, we acknowledge that there is room for even better youth development outcomes.”

He said the YPOS is an important initiative for CDB as positive youth development outcomes align with CDB’s strategic priorities and are essential to the Region’s sustainable development.

“This forum matters a lot to us at the Bank given our mandate to reduce poverty in our Borrowing Member Countries. This will only be possible if we create societies in which our youth can thrive. More than 60% of our region’s population is under the age of 30; this group represents a valuable resource for the sustainable development of our Region,” he said.

During the two-day workshop, participants discussed the preliminary findings from the study of the youth development context in BMCs and identified key priority areas that require further work in their countries. They also reviewed the first draft of the YPOS, making contributions to develop and refine it.

The Youth Policy and Operational Strategy is set to be completed in the last quarter of 2019.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Features, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

torrential downpour in Haiti

Five killed in torrential downpour in Haiti

by STAFF WRITER

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Jul. 4, CMC – Five were killed and three people are missing   following heavy rains that lashed the capital on Wednesday.

According to Haiti’s Directorate for Civil Protection (DPC), three people   were found dead in the city’s impoverished Cite Soleil neighborhood, while two others were killed elsewhere in Port-au-Prince.

In the town of Petionville, three people have been reported missing  and five were seriously injured when a wall collapsed under the weight of the downpour.

“There are unstable weather conditions prevailing in the Caribbean basin, and rain and thunderstorm activity could hit the country over the next two days,” the DPC said.

Heavy rain causes unusual damage in Haiti’s main cities due to a lack of proper drainage infrastructure.

According to government officials emergency teams remain mobilised and damage assessment is still underway. 

The DPC has called for continued vigilance in areas that remain at risk for flooding and landslides and has asked the population to observe safety instructions in case of showers and thunderstorms. 

Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

"A United CARICOM Diaspora?"

“A United CARICOM Diaspora?”

by Elizabeth Morgan*

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jun 19, CMC -World Bank: The Caribbean Diaspora is a sizeable, well-educated and affluent demographic … supported by right incentives and policies, diaspora members could play an even larger role in contributing to the region’s development.

As Jamaica’s 8th Biennial Diaspora Conference is being held in Kingston this week under the theme “Building Pathways to Sustainable Development”, I thought that I would look at the potential of a united Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Diaspora i.e. persons who have migrated from the CARICOM Member States.

Migration from the British West Indies (BWI) seeking work in overseas countries and territories commenced in the 1860s and continued. Today, the main concentration of migrants from CARICOM Member States is in the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA) and Canada.

A rough estimate has the total combined CARICOM Diaspora in the UK, USA and Canada numbering about 3.4 million; 600, 000 in the UK, two million in the USA, and 800,000 in Canada. The majority are from Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Besides Jamaica, other CARICOM Member States engaging with their diaspora in North America and Europe are Haiti, Guyana, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. An important area for engagement is trade and investment. Jamaica’s National Foreign Trade Policy and Draft Diaspora Policy identify this as an important area for cooperation.

Diaspora demand stimulated exports of non-traditional products from the region into the UK, USA and Canada. These non-traditional products include fruits, vegetables, ground provisions, sauces, condiments and baked goods. By opening stores, restaurants and bakeries, members of the diaspora introduced the wider population to the culture, products and cuisine of the Caribbean. Non-traditional exports have been growing. The diaspora is still seen as a niche market for the region.

The World Bank, Commonwealth and others see the potential of the CARICOM diaspora as a united force for advocacy and promoting regional growth and development, but how coordinated is this diaspora in the UK, USA and Canada?

The CARICOM Diaspora in the UK does not appear to have a formal structure but is engaged through the CARICOM Caucus of High Commissioners and Ambassadors in London. They collaborated successfully from 2009-2015 to change the Air Passenger Duty policy and more recently on the Windrush issue. A British-Caribbean Chamber of Commerce does exist.

I noted that in 2017 the Ambassador of Guyana to the USA, Dr. Riyad Insannally, called for a more structured engagement between the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors in Washington DC and the diaspora to advance the region’s causes.

As we have seen, the largest concentration of CARICOM migrants is in the USA. I am aware of the activities of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Caribbean-American Political Action Committee. June is designated Caribbean American Heritage Month.

There is a Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry which aims to promote and sustain trade and investment between the US and the Caribbean. It does not appear, however, that the CARICOM Diaspora is as well coordinated as it could be especially in New York, New Jersey and Florida which have the highest concentration of CARICOM migrants. In these states, contact points would be the Consulates in New York and Miami.

In Canada, the CARICOM population is concentrated in the province of Ontario. In that province, I note that the Caribbean Women’s Society, established in 2015, launched the Caribbean-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Community.

There was a prior attempt to establish a Caribbean/Canadian Business Council. The Caribbean Women’s Society has taken the imitative to have October declared Caribbean Heritage Month in Ontario.

It is the caucus of CARICOM Consuls in Toronto which is the contact point for the diaspora in the Greater Toronto area. There is the CARICOM Caucus of High Commissioners and Ambassadors in Ottawa which is also engaged with the diaspora in Ontario and other parts of Canada.

It is evident that some effort is being made to organize the CARICOM diaspora to improve their status in their countries of residence as well as to promote the region’s interests. It is clear that much more would need to be done to coordinate and manage a CARICOM diaspora structure in the UK, USA and Canada. Currently, the priority of CARICOM Member States is their national diaspora engagement. The potential is there for diaspora engagement on a regional level but this is clearly a work in progress which needs further encouragement from within the region, the private sector and regional bodies.

The newly established Caribbean Chamber of Commerce (CARICHAM) could be looking at partnering with Caribbean Chambers in the UK, USA and Canada.

As been often said, to sustain growth within the region and to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), partnering to increase trade and investment flows is essential.

*Elizabeth Morgan, who writes for CMC, is a specialist in international trade policy and international politics.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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Saharan Dust returns across the Eastern Caribbean with a vengence

Adapted :  Thursday, June 20, 2019,

Nearly all islands across the Lesser Antilles are experiencing air quality levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the most reduced air quality occurring across Barbados and Martinique as of 11:00 AM. Dense Saharan Dust continues to traverse the Atlantic and Caribbean as all islands across the Greater Antilles, stretching as far as Florida into the United States, are experiencing moderate air quality. Across Trinidad and Tobago, air quality is beginning to deteriorate rapidly, but generally still at good to moderate levels. Persons with respiratory ailments, heart disease, the elderly and children need to take the necessary precautions!

Presently, minimal to mild concentrations of Saharan Dust are present across Trinidad and Tobago, with air quality at good levels across Western and Central Trinidad. Across Eastern Trinidad and Tobago however, a combination of model data and ground stations are indicating air quality is beginning to be quickly degraded, presently at moderate levels.

Air quality index across Trinidad and Tobago as of 11:00 AM Thursday 20th June 2019 as dense Saharan Dust forecast to continue moving across the region.
Air quality index across Trinidad and Tobago as of 11:00 AM Thursday 20th June 2019 as dense Saharan Dust forecast to continue moving across the region.

According to the EMA, the national standard for Particulate Matter (PM) of diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) is 65 µg/m3 and PM of diameter ≤10 µm (PM10) is 75 µg/m3. This has not been exceeded since the March 2019 Saharan Dust Outbreak. Based on present model guidance, this event is expected to become close or just over the PM2.5 threshold at 62-66 µg/m3 at its peak early Friday morning across Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition, with breezy conditions, and gusts to 60 KM/H, a significant reduction in visibility is forecast out at sea. Marine interests are advised to exercise extreme caution as seas still remain moderate, with waves between 2.0 to 2.5 meters in open waters.

All Lesser Antilles Islands are experiencing air quality levels at unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago. Countries along the Northern coast of Southern America are experiencing good air quality, while all Greater Antilles islands, stretching as far west as the United States, are experiencing moderate air quality.

Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles
Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles

At moderate air quality levels, unusually sensitive groups should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

The concentration of the dust that follows the wave depends on the strength of the wave as it moves off the West African Coast. This is because of stronger thunderstorms across Central Africa. As strong winds move downward and outward from these thunderstorms, the wind kicks up dust as it moves across parts of the Saharan Desert and transports it into the upper atmosphere. This “plume” of dust follows the axis of the wave as it progresses westward into the Atlantic.

 5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A significant surge of Saharan Dust is forecast to move across Trinidad and Tobago over the next 24-48 hours, reducing air quality to unhealthy for sensitive groups for the 3rd time in 2019. Air quality is forecast to return to good levels by late Saturday into Sunday as Tropical Wave 10 moves across the area.
5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A significant surge of Saharan Dust is forecast to move across Trinidad and Tobago over the next 24-48 hours, reducing air quality to unhealthy for sensitive groups for the 3rd time in 2019. Air quality is forecast to return to good levels by late Saturday into Sunday as Tropical Wave 10 moves across the area.

Dust models continue to show, following the passage of tropical waves, moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad and Tobago over the next several weeks. Based on the latest model guidance, following this significant surge over the next 24-36 hours, another moderate surge is forecast by June 25 and another by June 30.

 00Z June 20th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell
00Z June 20th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell

Sensitive groups such as persons with respiratory ailments, children, the elderly and cardiopulmonary disease should take the necessary precautions on days where dust concentrations degrade air quality to moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions

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BVI government to improve border security

BVI government to improve border security

by STAFF WRITER

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun 3 CMC – Over US$6-million will be spent to improve border security across this British Overseas territory.

Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley  says the move shows that the current administration is serious  about advancing the territory.

Vincent Wheatley

“For as long as I can recall, there have been complaints and heavy criticism levied against Labour and Immigration departments.That is why Cabinet recently approved the sum of $6.4 million for the purchase of a new state-of-the-art Immigration border management system.”

This comes several months after Governor Augustus announced that travellers arriving and departing the BVI will be subject to heightened security measures to include the implementation of an Advance Passenger Information (API) System.

Meanwhile, Wheatley said he intends to give support to the departments of Labour and Immigration by introducing policies and legislation to help reform and improve them.

Concerning plans for the online amalgamation of the Labour and Immigration departments, Wheatley, who is also Labour Minister, says this has already started.

“It’s currently undergoing testing. We are using a test group of 32 different businesses – which will soon be open to the wider public,” adding that the undertaking is scheduled to be ready for the broader public by July.

“It is only the beginning. Later on this month, we will be launching a few more initiatives within that department starting with a name change,” he said.

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DECLAR~1

DECLARATION ADOPTED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE SIXTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF CARICOM AND CUBA

 

 

  Date: 2019-Jun-Fri Web: www.caricom.org | Tel: 592-222-0001 | Email: communications@caricom.org  

We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Republic of Cuba, having met in Georgetown, Guyana, on June 14th, 2019, on the occasion of the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Ministerial Meeting.

Recalling the Summit Declarations of Havana 2002, Bridgetown 2005, Santiago de Cuba 2008, Port of Spain 2011, Havana 2014 and St. Mary’s 2017; as well as the periodic meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Cuba; and highlighting their indisputable contribution to the advancement of our political links and cooperation, materialized in the high level reached by the relations between our nations;

Recognizing the need to collectively address the challenges to sustainable development, including our vulnerabilities as Caribbean countries, especially in the economic and environmental areas, and in particular as Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States, in order to build just, inclusive and equitable societies;

Concerned by the loss of life and the extensive economic and infrastructure damage caused by the passage of frequent and intensive hurricanes in the Caribbean region, and the negative effect of natural disasters on our development processes;

Affirming that the Caribbean is an inseparable part of Our America, and highlighting the role of CARICOM in the regional integration process;

Reaffirming the importance of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as a mechanism for political consultation and promotion of the unity and integration of our region;

Recalling the significance to the Caribbean countries of taking advantage of the potential offered by the regional and sub-regional mechanisms such as CELAC, ACS, ALBA-TCP, PETROCARIBE as well as international mechanisms such as BRICS;

Determined to continue to strengthen the CARICOM-Cuba mechanism, based on deep historical roots and founded on solidarity, cooperation, and complementarity:

1. Reiterate that the unity and integration of our Caribbean Region is based on unrestricted respect and full adhesion to the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law, in particular the respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the prohibition of the threat or use of force. Also, reaffirm our commitment to the protection and promotion of all human rights for all;

2. Emphasize the importance of defending regional unity to preserve the peace and stability of our countries;

3. Reaffirm our solidarity with the Republic of Haiti, for which we feel a historic debt of gratitude, and a commitment to continue fostering cooperation with that nation, in accordance with the priorities defined by its government and in full respect of its sovereignty;

4. Call on the international community, in its relations with the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), to endorse the tenets of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana in January 2014, and that recognizes, among others, the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system as an essential condition to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations.

5. Reject the imposition of unilateral coercive measures and, in that context, call for an immediate and unconditional end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba and, especially, to its extraterritorial nature and the financial persecution of Cuban transactions, whose severity has increased. In this regard, we denounce the application of the new measures under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, legislation which flagrantly violates International Law and undermines the sovereignty and interests of third parties, announced by the US government which strengthens the US blockade against Cuba, including the application of laws and measures of extra-territorial nature that are contrary to international law. Furthermore, we reiterate our endorsement of the principles of international law as well as our strongly-held view that economic development and stability in the Caribbean region contribute to international peace and security;

6. Agree to continue implementing the results of the Summits of Heads of State and Government of CARICOM and the Republic of Cuba and the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs as a platform for closer political consultation and coordination in other areas;

7. Recognize the cooperation between CARICOM and Cuba in areas such as health, human resource development, construction, sports, and disaster risk reduction and mitigation has effectively contributed to the development and well-being of our peoples. In this regard, we reaffirm our commitment to continue promoting the implementation of projects to improve air and sea ports, infrastructure and connectivity between our countries and broaden our economic and trade relations through the implementation of the Revised Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba;

8. Commit to complete the required internal legal procedures with a view to giving effect to the Second Protocol to the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation, which will contribute to the strengthening of trade relations;

9. Reiterate the importance of trade for the Region’s sustainable development and reaffirm the necessity of appropriate policy space and special and differential treatment for small vulnerable economies like those in the Caribbean. In that context, we welcome the hosting by Barbados of UNCTAD XV in October 2020, which will be the first time that an UNCTAD quadrennial conference has been held in a Caribbean country;

10. Reaffirm the need to continue strengthening cooperation and exchange of experiences and good practices in the area of integrated disaster risk management in the Caribbean, aiming to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and all its goals by the Caribbean countries; and thus to promote the substantial reduction of disaster risk and loss of life, livelihood and health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of people, enterprises, communities and countries;

11. Commit to continue cooperation in the areas of food security, nutrition and agricultural development including women empowerment and youth involvement, as key pillars in the fight against poverty, including actions for implementing the CELAC Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and the Eradication of Hunger 2025 (SAN-CELAC);

12. Reiterate our commitment to the protection and conservation of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources in the region, particularly in the Caribbean Sea. Support its designation by the United Nations as a “Special Area in the Context of Sustainable Development” and support the mandate of the ACS Caribbean Sea Commission, to promote its preservation and sustainable use. In that regard, strongly condemn the continued use of the Caribbean Sea for transit and transshipment of nuclear material and toxic waste, and urge countries that produce and transport them to urgently implement appropriate measures to end such activities;

13. Reaffirm the commitment to promote regional energy integration as a relevant element for sustainable development and to advance the diversification of the energy matrix of our countries, oriented towards the use of clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources, and universal access to energy services that contribute to the well-being of our peoples; we also welcome the fruitful exchanges held between the Caribbean Center for Renewable Energy and Energetic Efficiency and Cuba;

14. Emphasize the urgent and global priority of climate change and its negative implications for our societies, ecosystems and economies. In this regard, commit to strengthening cooperation within CARICOM and with other international organizations and agencies to foster greater adaptation and mitigation, strengthen resilience and reduce our vulnerability, particularly Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States;

15. Commit ourselves to continue promoting joint actions and exchanges of experience and information on security, as well as on prevention and confrontation of transnational organized crime, the worldwide drug problem, corruption, human trafficking and other new threats related to cyber security among others;

16. Recognize the promotion of sustainable tourism as one of the keys to economic growth in the Caribbean region, as identified in the Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community 2015-2019, and agree to strengthen cooperation in this area, including multi-destination tourism;

17. Emphasize the importance of culture as a significant instrument in the advancement of sustainable economic development, unity, peace, education and mutual understanding between our people, and support a successful celebration of CARIFESTA XIV, to take place in Trinidad and Tobago on August 16 – 25, 2019;

18. Reaffirm our will to strengthen South-South cooperation as an expression of solidarity among our countries for the promotion of bilateral and regional programmes as well as triangular cooperation for development, taking into account the development priorities of our countries;

19. Agree to celebrate the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the establishment of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) on 24 July 2019, recognizing the role it continues to play in advancing integration and sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean, through active collaboration in the focused areas of disaster risk reduction, sustainable tourism including multi-destination, trade, sustainable development and protection of the Caribbean Sea and transportation;

20. Reaffirm that the preservation and consolidation of CELAC as a regional forum for dialogue and political coordination and as an international political actor is one of our priorities. In that context, we consider it to be fundamental to continue strengthening regional integration through political dialogue, cooperation and increased trade among the countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. In that regard, we reaffirm the importance of Caribbean countries’ active participation within CELAC and we recognize the role played by successive Chairs of Conference of CARICOM within the CELAC Quartet;

21. Acknowledge and support the effort deployed by CARICOM countries and its Pro Tempore President, alongside Mexico and Uruguay through the Montevideo Mechanism for respectful dialogue in Venezuela, guided by the principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, prohibition of the threat and use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the constitutional framework and democracy, and reiterating the right of people to self–determination;

22. Express grave concern over the inclusion of CARICOM Member States in the lists of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions by the European Union which has negative effects on the economies of Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States which have implemented recognized international norms and have proven their willingness to cooperate and dialogue in order to find solutions;

23. Also express deep concern and rejection of the progressive decline in correspondent banking relations with developing countries, particularly CARICOM Member States, due to de-risking actions by some of the major international banking corporations, which threaten the financial stability of the affected countries and limits their efforts to achieve development and socio-economic growth;

24. Reiterate the call to review and modify the current “graduation” criteria for Official Development Assistance so as to adequately reflect the reality and specific needs of Highly-Indebted Middle Income Countries, particularly Caribbean States;

25. Emphasize the importance of reparation and compensation for the damages caused by slavery in the Caribbean as an act of justice and, in this regard, support the work of the CARICOM Reparations commission;

26. Express our thanks to the Government and People of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana for their warm welcome, hospitality and support in organizing the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Ministerial Meeting;

27. Decide to hold the Seventh CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Cuba, in 2020.

Declaration Adopted At The Conclusion Of The Sixth Meeting Of Ministers Of Foreign Affairs Of CARICCARICOM and Cuba Ministers and delegates and CARICOM Secretary-General pose for a photo after the opening of the Meeting (Photo via DPI)

Adopted at the Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Cuba on 14th June 2019, in Georgetown, Guyana.

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CCJ to hand down rulings in two sets of cases from Guyana

CCJ to hand down rulings in two sets of cases from Guyana

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 12, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says it will on Tuesday deliver judgements in two sets of cases from Guyana that could have implications for the political environment in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

The CCJ, which is Guyana’s highest court, said Wednesday that its first judgement will “determine whether the appointment, or the process followed in the appointment, of Guyana’s Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman breached the Constitution”.

President David Granger had appointed retired justice James Patterson as GECOM chairman following the resignation of Dr. Steve Surujbally, in November 2016. Surujbally stepped down from office at the end of February 2017.

Last year, Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire dismissed an application by a senior member of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) challenging Granger’s decision to appoint a chairman from outside the lists provided to him by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.

PPP executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, had called on the High Court to declare that the appointment of Patterson violated the constitution and is “accordingly unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect”.

The opposition party had also claimed that Justice Patterson is not constitutionally qualified to be appointed GECOM chairman and wanted the High Court to grant an order “rescinding, revoking, cancelling and setting aside the appointment”.

The CCJ said that its second judgement on Tuesday will “determine three consolidated cases arising from last December’s motion of no confidence in the government.

“One of the main issues in that case was whether 33 or 34 votes were required to carry the motion given that the membership of the National Assembly totalled 65 members. Another issue in dispute was whether one of the members of the National Assembly who voted in favour of the motion was ineligible so to vote because he was disqualified from membership of the National Assembly as a result of his citizenship of Canada,” it said.

Jagdeo had challenged the ruling of the Court of Appeal in his country that invalidated a motion of no confidence that was passed in the National Assembly in December 21, last year.

When the matters came before the High Court in Guyana in January, it ruled that only 33 votes were required. However, on appeal to the Court of Appeal, the three-member panel by a 2-1 majority held that 34 votes were required.

Charrandass Persaud, who was then a government legislator voted in support of the motion in the National Assembly, ensuring that the coalition administration lost its one-seat majority in the 65-member legislative body.

The Guyana government had argued in the appeal that Persaud was ineligible to vote because he held dual citizenship.

The CCJ said that it will begin delivering the rulings at 10.00 am (local time) on Tuesday.

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CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY SECRETARIAT

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Delegates at the opening of the 36th COHSOD in Georgetown, Guyana

CARICOM: Culture plays important role in Region’s sustainable growth, development


Date: 7, June 2019
 
CARICOM SG
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, has reiterated that culture played a significant role in the Region’s sustainable growth and development.

He was speaking at the opening of the Thirty-Sixth Meeting of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Thursday, 6 June 2019, at the CARICOM Headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana.

The two-day meeting is being held under the theme ‘Leveraging CARICOM’s Cultural Assets for the Sustainable Development of the Community’. The Secretary-General said that the theme further emphasised the commitment of the Region to develop its rich and diverse cultural assets.

“It has been asserted that Culture should be seen as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, as both an enabler and driver of economic and social development and environmental sustainability, which constitute the three dimensions of sustainable development,” said Ambassador LaRocque.

In supporting his point, he said further that cultural industries in the Region had out-performed sectors such as agriculture, finance, insurance and construction in some Member States. He, however, said that there needed to be the necessary enabling environment for the creative industries to be more competitive, and to increase their contribution to employment and growth.

Speaking about the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA), which he referred to as the Community’s highly valued regional space that showcased arts and culture, Amb. LaRocque said the mega cultural event was being positioned as a catalyst for creative industry development within CARICOM.

He noted that since CARIFESTA XI in Suriname, a business component – the cultural marketplace – was introduced where managers of venues, international festivals and performing arts, buyers and booking agents were invited to see and network with Caribbean artists.  According to him, that initiative was intended to create more opportunities for the professional development of artists and for the export of their products and services.

Dr. the Hon. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Trinidad and Tobago, gave the feature address at the opening.

She was also of the view that the theme chosen for the hosting of the Meeting was very relevant, remarking that it spoke to how individuals, the Community, and nations of the Region understood and utilised culture for self-evaluation. According to her, a paradigm shift was needed to create a more self-sustaining cultural economic cycle.

“We must place ourselves in the driver’s seat – charting together the course for cultural development based on already identified cultural assets – driving the way forward, instead of accepting windfall successes,” she opined.

She expressed the view that in addition to developing the creative sector, the Community’s icons and citizens who had made outstanding contributions should be honoured so as to “incentivise” excellence in the cultural sphere.

As expected, Minister Gadsby-Dolly spoke about CARIFESTA XIV which is being hosted by Trinidad and Tobago in August. She informed the Meeting that the host country was introducing several niche festivals to the event that could become stand-alone events in the Region. She said that CARIFESTA was one of the Region’s best cultural assets and it was up to the Community to find innovative ways to reinvigorate and re-imagine the Festival each time.

Hon. Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Cohesion, Guyana, was happy to welcome the Ministers and Officials to his country for the Meeting. He also posited the value of culture, saying it was time for it to be mainstreamed in the Regional agenda.

He noted that the Community’s culture was dynamic and that the cultural and creative industries would continue to evolve, even while being the key vehicles driving the development of the Region. He encouraged those present to continue to work together to achieve tangible outcomes and gave a commitment of his government’s continued support.
 https://www.flickr.com/photos/caricomorg/48014129661/in/album-72157708956104106/

Photo caption:  Delegates at the opening of the 36th COHSOD in Georgetown, Guyana on 6 June 2019. Pictured centre are (L-R): Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, Dr. the Hon. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts of Trinidad and Tobago and Hon. Dr. George Norton Minister of Social Cohesion of Guyana.      

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