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IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean


WASHINGTON, Jun. 20,   CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched a call for proposals that will reward the most disruptive ventures in Latin America and the Caribbean that are using innovation to improve lives.

The Washington-based financial institution said the selected startups will participate in Demand Solutions Chile, which will take place on November 21 in Santiago, Chile.

Demand Solutions is the IDB’s flagship innovation event that brings together “the world’s most forward-thinking minds to share creative solutions to the development challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the statement said.

In this edition, the IDB said startups can participate in two thematic areas.

In the first, they must provide solutions in four categories related to the cultural and creative industries: Design with social sense: sustainable fashion, smart fashion, urban art, wearable technology; and multimedia that improves lives: videogames, digital content, audiovisual content.

The other categories are: New technologies: 3D printing, blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics; and export of services to global markets: production and commercialization of cultural content, export of goods and creative services.

The IDB said the 10 most innovative startups in the creative industries will be selected to participate in Demand Solutions Chile with all expenses paid for one representative per startup.

The first place will receive financial support to continue with its development, the IDB said.

Additionally, the IDB said this edition of Demand Solutions will also reward five startups that provide solutions to water and sanitation challenges in the region.

Since 2009, the IDB said along with Fundación FEMSA it was awarded the Water and Sanitation Prize for Latin America and the Caribbean “to recognize and stimulate the most innovative solutions in the water, sanitation and solid waste sectors.”

The startups interested in participating in Demand Solutions must present a solution proposal to a development challenge before July 15, the IDB said.

It said the representatives must be over 18 years old.

Winners will be notified by mail in early September 2018.

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Regional leaders to attend opening of Grenada’s new parliament building

Regional leaders to attend opening of Grenada’s new parliament building

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jun. 20, CMC -Almost 14 years after it was destroyed by the category three Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Houses of Parliament will have a new home with the official opening of a new parliament building on Thursday.

The event will be attended by regional leaders – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, of Trinidad and Tobago , Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque .

Local diplomats are also scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Press Secretary Kisha Alexander-Grant said that other leaders and dignitaries are expected to attend the ceremony that is being held 100 days since the New National Party returned to office following the March 13th General Elections.

The new building which is located in Mt. Wheldale is built within close proximity to the residence of the late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. The building was constructed  with funds from the Governments of Australia, Mexico  the United Arab Emirates and Grenada.

Representatives from the donor governments are also scheduled to witness the opening which takes the form of a joint sitting of the both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.

The former Parliament building called York House that was  located on Church Street was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Since the devastation, Parliamentary sessions were temporarily held at the Grenada Trade Center while the offices of Parliament are housed next door in a ministerial complex.

Designed by Caribbean Office of Caribbean Architecture, the EC$23 million  (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) ,environmentally friendly building was built by Quinnco Design and Construction.

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Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

By Ernie Seon

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jun. 19, CMC – The Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, has signaled her intention to deepen political and economic cooperation with the nine nation Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

In her first address outside of Barbados since assuming office, Mottley told representatives of the 65th Meeting of the OECS Authority which began its working session here Tuesday, that her administration wanted mutually beneficial solutions to critical issues such as climate change, freedom of movement and transportation challenges.

She told the gathering which included leaders of all nine member OECS states, with the exception of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of  Dominica who was expected later Tuesday, of the  need to resolve climate change issues, pointing to the influx of sargassum seaweed as an opportunity for economic benefit, rather than treating it as a problem that affects our coast and tourism industry.

“We have had to confront it as you do across the rest of the region, but we believe that our best efforts are when they are cooperative and to that extent our ability to harvest the sargassum weed collectively and maximize what ever economic benefits we can get from it rather than treat it as a nuisance that affects our coasts and tourism industry, is the way in which we would like to pursue discussions.”

She said that freedom of movement was another pressing concern, and finding a way forward for the regional airline LIAT.

She said from her country’s perspective, one of the troubling concerns was the inability of persons who were in-transit in Barbados for more than two hours, to clear immigration.

“It makes no sense, because it hurts the extent to which those who visit our shores are capable of contributing to our economic activity in our country.

“To that extent prior to traveling here, I have asked what are the legal obstacles preventing the movement of people who are in-transit within our air and sea ports, who are being precluded from leaving the ports, but I am yet to receive an answer that makes sense,” she told the leaders.

“If you are at a point of entry for 6 or 8 hours there is no reason to be treated as a prisoner of war within the precincts of our region,” Motley insisted.

On the issue of inter-island transportation the Barbados leader said she looks forward to engaging with the OECS leaders, ” and particularly fellow shareholders and soon to be other shareholders in the context of regional carrier, Liat.”

She however noted that she would do so, cognizant of the fact that modalities  that were relevant decades ago cannot continue to be relevant as countries enter the third decade of the 21st Century.

Motley suggested that a review of government structures was absolutely critical if the region is to ensure the viability of an airline that serves as the lifeblood of this region.

“Similarly it is time that we stopped just talking about inter-island ferry transportation and get on with establishing this vital service.

“I am aware that unless we get to the stage where we can facilitate the movement of not just people, but vehicles and cargo we will not reap the full benefit of the space we have the honour to occupy.”

She explained to facilitate such an undertaking when it comes there needed to be mutual recognition of insurance, licenses, and the equal ability for the region to see how far it is prepared to go for mutual recognition of domestic incorporation, “so as we don’t impose on citizens the additional cost and time of having to go through these exercises again, simply to facilitate free movement across the region.”

Meanwhile,  Mottley and the heads of Governments of the OECS were also meeting Tuesday  in caucus for dialogue on better ways of collaboration between Barbados and the OECS.

The agenda for the 65th Meeting includes critical areas related to climate change among them the problem of sargassum where the OECS hopes to initiate a regional approach.

“We are going to be discussing ways in which the member states can work effectively together to do clean-ups of the beaches and areas affected by sargassum but more importantly how do we turn this problem into an opportunity,” said OECS Director General Dr. Didicus Jules told journalists Monday.

He said building resilience in the Caribbean is also high on the agenda in terms of, not just infrastructure but economic, social and community resilience.

A presentation is expected by the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator Group which has been assisting the Caribbean in becoming the first climate smart region. During the OECS meeting, the work programme of the OECS will also be under review.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet will hand over to incoming chairman, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

The OECS is made up of seven full Member States, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts Nevis, St Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and three Associate Member States: the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Martinique, all of whom are expected to be represented at the summit.

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Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun. 19, CMC  – Premier Dr. Orlando Smith has announced that he will not be seeking re-election as leader of his National Democratic Party (NDP) at the upcoming convention on the weekend.

Dr Orlando Smith

Smith, 73,  who made the announcement in a broadcast late Monday, said he made the decision after ‘much thought and prayer’ and after discussions with family and colleagues.

“And so, when the NDP comes together in its upcoming Convention, I will not seek nor accept the nomination to lead the party into the next election,” the premier said.

“There is so much work left to do. With this decision, I will be free to dedicate 100 per cent of my time and attention to that task….while my journey as the Premier and leader of the territory will come to a close at the end of this government’s term in office, the mission that was launched so many years ago lives on.”

The decision made by the Premier means that the only confirmed contenders to succeed him as party leader are Education Minister Myron Walwyn and Health Minister Ronnie Skelton.

During this weekend’s convention candidates will also be contesting the offices of vice president, secretary, deputy secretary, treasurer, deputy treasurer, chaplain, chairman of the youth movement, and chairperson of the women’s association.


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Caribbean American Congresswoman outraged over separation of children from parents at US border

Caribbean American Congresswoman outraged over separation of children from parents at US border

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, Jun. 18,   CMC – Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has joined intensified outrage in the United States over the Trump administration’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents at the US border. 

“There is no act lower than ripping innocent children from the arms of their mothers,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, in an  interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), on Sunday.

Yvette D. Clarke

“We have hit an all-time low as a people and a country,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “It is one of the most inhumane, cruel acts that could ever be taken by the Trump administration.

“As a second generation American, the daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents,  I take these assaults on immigrant communities personally,” Clarke continued, stating that she has been “a staunch advocate for immigration rights, from fighting for a clean Dream Act, aggressively advocating to keep families together to keeping vulnerable children with their parents, and fighting the Trump administration on their revocation of DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] and attacks on Diversity Visas.”

In addressing what she described as “the racist, xenophobia of the Trump Administration,” Clarke said she has also advocated for the ASPIRE Act, a bipartisan bill to provide individuals who have received Temporary Protective Status (TPS), legal permanent residency.

“This administration has no bounds, even children don’t seem to matter,” the congresswoman said. “Therefore, I vow to continue to fight ferociously, along with my colleagues, against these grave injustices; and, we don’t plan to stop until justice prevails.”

Amid the profound outrage, US President Donald J. Trump on Saturday reiterated what political analysts and observers say is his erroneous claim that Democrats were responsible for his administration’s policy of separating migrant families arrested at the US border.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” said Trump in a twitter post on the weekend.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that close to 2,000 children were separated from their migrant parents in a six-week period, concluding in May, as part of its “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.

In expressing outrage over the Trump administration’s new policy, Democrats have said that the separation of children from their parents at the US border is just of the incumbent administration’s making – that they had not enacted any law or rule in that regard.

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Investigation Commission wants to probe activities of former minister

Investigation Commission wants to probe activities of former minister

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jun 16, CMC – The Integrity Commission says there are grounds to begin an investigation into the activities of former investment and trade minister, Asot Michael, who stepped down last month amid speculation that he was among Caribbean politicians who had received bribes from a British investor.

In a statement, the Integrity Commission said the investigation would fall under the Integrity in Public Life Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, both enacted in 2004.

Asot Michael

Michael’s departure from the Cabinet in May was the second occasion within a seven-month period that he has had to forgo his ministerial position. Last October, he was arrested in London while on his way to a conference in France.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne subsequently removed him as the minister of tourism, economic development, investment and energy, but the 49-year-old rebounded to successfully contest the March 21 general election on behalf of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda labour Party (ABLP).

Michael, who was born in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, has denied the accusation that unfolded in a British High Court in May in a matter involving British financier Peter Virdee, whose telephone conversations with his business partner, Dieter Trutschler, in 2016, had been recorded by German authorities.

According to the transcript of the document revealed in the High Court, Virdee alleges that Michael had asked him for two million dollars, as well as to buy a car for his mother.

But in his resignation letter to Prime Minister Browne, the Parliamentary Representative of St Peter’s, said he had become “aware that recent media reports, emerging from Court proceedings in the United Kingdom, to which I am not a party, have caused anxiety in some quarters of our society and are being used by opposition political elements to seek to discredit me and the Government.

“I emphasize that I am not a party to the Court proceedings in the United Kingdom which have been reported in the media, nor have I been charged with any wrong doing.  The media reports refer to recordings of conversations between persons other than myself, and I cannot be held responsible for their utterances”.

The Integrity Commission has acknowledged that it does not have the staff or the resources to mount the investigation into Michael noting that it has only one staff member who serves as the secretary to both the body and the Information Commissioner’s offices.

But the Integrity Commission chairman, Radford Hill said that the commission intends to investigate the matter and make a formal request to the government for additional resources.

In addition, the police would be asked to conduct, if necessary.

Hill said that while the commission’s interaction with the public has been limited so far, in short order the commissioners plan to launch a public awareness campaign on the body’s existence, it’s role and mandate.

The commission is also encouraging people to comply with the Integrity in Public Life Act and promises to aggressively enforce compliance in filing declarations and other matters within the confines of their limited resources.

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LA Times logo

Essential Politics – Comey, Trump, Kim…


By David Lauter

On his return from Singapore, President Trump lamented on Twitter that his “thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt.”

His eagerness to jump back into the fray belied the “sadly.”

Even before he left Washington for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump was looking ahead to the scheduled release of a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who was expected to sharply criticize the president’s nemesis, former FBI Director James B. Comey.

The report, issued the day Trump turned 72, would be a good birthday present, the president said.


One central fact about the report issued by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz: It has only a tangential relationship to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian efforts to shape the 2016 election and possible collusion by people close to Trump.

The main focus of the 500-page report, as Evan Halper wrote, was on the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of email while she was secretary of State.

Comey mishandled the case by flouting Justice Department rules and publicly talking about the FBI’s conclusions, according to Horowitz — a nonpartisan figure who commands wide respect from both parties in Congress. Comey’s actions did not display political bias but were improper, Horowitz’s report concluded. He also found that Comey correctly determined that the FBI had no grounds to recommend criminal charges against Clinton in the email probe.

The report also went into great detail on a “culture of leaking” of investigative details from the FBI to reporters — something that clearly played to Clinton’s detriment in 2016.

In Clinton’s eyes — and in the opinion of many outside analysts — Comey’s announcement in October 2016 that the FBI had reopened its email probe after finding some of her emails on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner could well have been the deciding factor that cost her the election. The inspector general’s criticisms of the FBI investigation would have rocked the campaign had the election not already been held more than 19 months ago.

The historical nature of the inquiry — and its strong implication that the FBI had been unfair to Clinton, not him — didn’t slow Trump, of course. To him, Comey represents the enemy, the Deep State that he and his supporters see as conspiring against him. Anything that reflects badly on Comey serves the president both politically (keeping his supporters revved up) and, it seems, psychologically.

The report “totally exonerates” him, Trump falsely declared Friday.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, went further, as is increasingly his habit. Even though the report does not mention Mueller at all, and involves only matters that took place months before Mueller’s appointment, Giuliani took to Sean Hannity’s Fox television show Thursday night to say that Mueller should be “suspended.”

Even more extraordinarily for a former U.S. attorney, Giuliani declared that an FBI agent cited in the report for sending text messages critical of candidate Trump “should be in jail by the end of next week.”

The FBI agent, Peter Strzok, and a second former agent, Lisa Page, provide the key connection for Trump and his backers that allows them to link the Clinton email investigation to the Mueller probe.

Strzok played an important role in the email investigation and the early stages of the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016. The personal messages he exchanged with Page — the two were having an affair — which show disdain for Trump, taint the entire investigation and everything it produced, Trump’s backers claim.

Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation last summer, after he learned of the messages and before they became public.

Friday morning, the Russia investigation got a new jolt when a federal judge ordered Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort jailed on allegations of witness tampering. Trump, shortly before the court hearing, continued his effort to distance himself from Manafort, saying that he “worked for me for a very short period of time.”


It’s possible that future historians will look back and say that Trump’s meeting with Kim in Singapore this week represented a milestone along a road toward a peaceful, secure future for northeast Asia.

It’s at least equally possible that it will be viewed, like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s trip to Pyongyang in the closing months of the Bill Clinton presidency, as yet another trip leading nowhere in the unsuccessful U.S. effort to reverse North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Trump’s not one to wait on the verdict of history.

“President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!” he declared on Twitter. “Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

As Barbara Demick and Tracy Wilkinson wrote in their assessment of the summit, the talks hadn’t been expected to produce much and “actually produced less than many analysts expected.” The vaguely worded summit declaration — largely negotiated before Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore — deferred almost all the hard work to a future negotiating process.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately set off for Seoul and Beijing to try to get that process moving, as Wilkinson and Eli Stokols reported.

“We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the next — what is it? — 2½ years, something like that,” Pompeo said. “There’s a lot of work left to do,” he acknowledged.

In addition to Demick, Wilkinson and Stokols, our colleagues in Singapore for the summit — Noah Bierman, Victoria Kim, Matt Stiles and Bob Drogin — produced a large body of excellent stories. Here’s a selection of some of the most insightful stories that remain of interest several days after the events have ended:

Demick wrote about Kim’s remarkable and brutal success at consolidating his hold on North Korea while also improving the country’s dismal economy. Kim is the “perfect dictator,” said Andrei Lankov, a Seoul-based scholar who has lived and worked inside North Korea.

Demick also explained why, seven decades after the fighting stopped, it’s still hard to formally end the Korean War.

Bierman wrote a first-person account of being one of the handful of reporters actually on-scene at the summit site.

Stokols wrote about how the summit highlighted the unique nature of “diplotainment” in the Trump era.

Kim wrote this about her experience as a reporter who grew up in South Korea, viewing North Korean Kim’s triumphal turn on the world stage.

David Cloud wrote about the nervous reaction at the Pentagon to Trump’s talk of ending joint military exercises with South Korea.

And lest anyone forget, Demick and Wilkinson wrote this about North Korea’s record of starving, shooting and imprisoning its own people.

Trump, as is now widely known, did not press that topic when he met with Kim and, indeed, went out of his way to downplay the North Korean government’s brutality.

Kim is a “tough guy” who took over a “tough country,” he told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “If you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 could do that,” he said, admiringly.

When Baier pressed him, noting that Kim had “done some really bad things,” Trump seemed to waive the concerns aside.

“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,” he said.

Friday, also on Fox, Trump expressed admiration for the way Kim’s underlings respond to him: “He speaks and his people stood up at attention,” Trump said. “I want my people to do the same.”


Remarks like that — even if Trump means them partly in jest — feed the president’s reputation for authoritarianism. So does the contrast between his warm praise for Kim (or other heads of state like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping) and his often-harsh criticism of America’s traditional allies.

The latest example came this week after Trump threw into chaos the G-7 economic summit in Quebec. As Jim Puzzanghera explained, Trump initially agreed to a joint communique to end the summit, as is traditionally done at such meetings. Then, after leaving early, he withdrew from the communique in an apparent fit of pique at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau had the temerity to say, as he has several times, that Canada would not go along with some U.S. demands for changes in the NAFTA trade treaty with the U.S. and Mexico.

The next day, two of Trump’s top economic advisors — taking their cues from the president — used unusually harsh rhetoric to denounce the Canadian leader, calling his words a “stab in the back.”

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said, on Fox, of course.

On Tuesday, Navarro apologized.

Trump’s conviction that other countries are cheating the U.S. on trade formed a central part of his campaign. Mainstream economic advisors diverted the president for most of his first year in office, but this year, he has steadily ratcheted up trade tensions.

On Friday, the administration took its latest step, detailing $50 billion in Chinese imports that will be subjected to hefty tariffs.

As Puzzanghera and Don Lee wrote, less than a month ago, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration was “putting the trade war on hold.” Now, it’s back on.


Trump’s savaging of the allies, levying of tariffs, downplaying of North Korean oppression and ending of military exercises with South Korea all broke with longstanding Republican positions.

Each outburst brought a few, scattered criticisms from the usual voices — Sen. John McCain and his fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and a few others.

The vast majority of Republicans remained silent.

Republican voters stand firmly in Trump’s corner — much more so this spring than they did last fall — and they’re ready to punish any sign of disloyalty. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina discovered that Tuesday when he lost his primary, largely because of his willingness to criticize Trump.

As Mark Barabak wrote, the lesson was clear to all GOP elected officials:

“If you’re a Republican member of Congress who wants to speak out against Trump, you have a couple of choices,” David Wasserman, who handicaps House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, told Barabak. “Retire or lose your next primary.”

A second lesson also came Tuesday when House GOP leaders successfully squelched an effort by moderate Republicans to force a vote on immigration legislation.

As Sarah Wire wrote, the moderates, led by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) had pushed for a vote on protecting the so-called Dreamers — young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children. Instead, the House leadership will bring to the floor two immigration bills — a hard-line measure that even its backers say can’t pass the House, and a more moderate effort that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has billed as a compromise.

Friday, Trump seemed to kill off that effort, as well. “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” he said.

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In the News

Follow the links as you wish in this brief of news :

Spain stepped up and offered to take in a rescue ship carrying more than 600 migrants after Italy and Malta refused.

Pancake chain IHOP teased a name change to “IHOb,” finally revealing that the new “b” stood for “burgers.”

The repeal of “net neutrality” has taken effect, six months after the FCC voted to undo Obama-era rules which had barred broadband and cellphone companies from favoring their own services and discriminating against rivals such as Netflix.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a landmark 2014 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals to rule that fleeing from domestic abuse and gang-related violence should not be considered a basis for being granted asylum in the United States, except in rare cases.

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Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie

Government minister wants debate on decriminalisation of marijuana

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jun 1, CMC – A senior government minister says he remains baffled as to why Dominicans are afraid of debating the issue of decriminalisation of marijuana whether it is or medicinal or other purposes.

“There’s a debate on marijuana…the whole world is debating marijuana, whether it is for medicinal purposes, whether it is for religious purposes. Are we going to remain in our little world and afraid to take about marijuana? It is a discussion we need to have,” Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie said.

Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie

Austrie, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, told a farmer’s consultation in Salisbury on the island’s west coast that Dominicans needed to discuss and debate the issue.

“In St. Vincent (and the Grenadines) they talking about it, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) has taken a decision to begin to talk about it. Why are we not talking about it more in Dominica?

“That’s the question I am asking. Are we prepared as a country to begin to talk about it. It is too much like a big stick within Dominica when the rest of the world is already talking about it,” Austrie said.

He told the consultation that Dominica “should start talking about it” adding “as to what we decide is another matter.

“But you can only make a decision after discussion. So let us start with the discussion and we will see where the discussion is going and if the discussion is let us end that talk about marijuana, we will end it. If the talk is we continue the discussion until some decisions are taken in that regard..”

“We live in a modern and enlighten world and maybe we may have a comparative advantage,” Austrie said, telling the consultation “I am not saying to use it, I am not saying to smoke it, I am not saying to sell it, but if we can grow it for medicinal purposes , the guys can come down here, they can buy it, we can package it, we can sell it, let us have that discussion on those subject matters,” Austrie said.

At least two CARICOM countries –Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda- have advanced plans for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes in their respective countries.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the initiative would be undertaken in a controlled environment.

“I want to make it abundantly clear that my government is not advocating the use of cannabis, we are against anything that is smoked.

“We do accept, though, on the other hand, that marijuana utilised in different forms has significant medicinal benefits and certainly we’ll move pretty quickly to ensure that we legalise the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” he said.

However, the executive director of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr James Hosepdales, urged regional countries to “proceed with an abundance of caution” when it come to the decriminalisation of marijuana.

Hospedales said there is much discussion on the decriminalisation issue and that there have been several times in history where populations and societies have gone very liberal with substances of abuse.

“The Americans are in the middle of a big opioid crisis and some many decades ago they had a huge problem with addiction and especially among white women,” he said.

“We in the Caribbean have a problem with marijuana and clogging up of the courts and the justice system and that’s understandable to try and reduce that side effect. I think though, in introducing these kinds of public policies, consideration has to be given to the full range of impact, he said, noting that if marijuana had to be decriminalised, there may be repercussions.

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Bishop Joseph Atherley

Former BLP legislator sworn in as Opposition Leader

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 1, CMC – Bishop Joseph Atherley was on Friday sworn in as Opposition Leader, one week after he was a member of the victorious Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that swept the May 24 general elections, winning all 30 seats in the Parliament.

The Member of Parliament for St Michael West constituency, accompanied by his wife, Esther, his sister Eudaline Atherley-Roberts and son Joseph Atherley III, took the oath of office before Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.

Bishop Joseph Atherley

Also present at the ceremony was the President of the St Michael West branch of the BLP, John Bancroft.

“I have heard a lot of things said and obviously it seems to be a shocking event to some. Let me tell you what it is not. It is not a reaction to any ministerial appointments made by the Right Honourable Prime Minister last week and the omission of myself.

“It is definitely not a reaction to that. I have indicated that to the Prime Minister and to my other parliamentary colleagues.

“It is definitely not a repudiation of the Barbados Labour Party platform or policies,” Atherley said, adding that he was part of those engaged in the formulation of the policies contained in the party’s manifesto.

“I support those…it is not a reaction to any decision by her,” he said, adding that he believes tremendously in the importance of democracy.

“I believe strongly we need to do everything we possibly can to make sure we expand our platform of democracy,” he said, adding that he wants “to constitute that physical presence” on the opposition benches”.

He said he would give “critical support to the party in office…to applaud them when they get it right, which I believe they will often, to put pertinent and pointed questions to them when necessary to keep them on their toes.

“This is about our traditions of democracy, it is about parliamentary processes  and that is why I am doing what I am doing,” he told reporters, adding that he would not be forming a party.

Prime Minister Mottley had last weekend noted that she was exploring the possibility of amending the Constitution to allow for the opposition party with the most votes to be able to nominate two members to the Senate. The move was seen as allowing the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which formed the last government, of having a presence in the Parliament.

But Bishop Atherley, the head of the Evangelical Holiness Christian Community Church, said he would be appointing two senators soon.

Another government legislator, Gline Clarke, who has also expressed disappointment over being left out of the Cabinet, has however indicated that he would not be crossing the floor.

“My constituents are not happy. The people who I represent are upset, not me. A lot of my constituents have been meeting with me and have expressed their dissatisfaction,” he told the online publication, Barbados TODAY, while making it clear that “I was elected a Member of Parliament. I was never elected a minister.”

“It is the Prime Minister who has to make the choices. If I did not meet her eyes, there are other things that can be done. The Prime Minister can appoint and disappoint and the truth of the matter is that I was elected as Member of Parliament. You have to give the  Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt all of the time,” Clarke said.

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