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T&T’s Honore appointed head of UN Mission in Haiti

Sandra HonoreUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday announced the appointment of Ms Sandra Honoré of Trinidad and Tobago as his Special Representative and head of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (Minustah). 

Honoré, who is expected to take up her functions on 15 July 2013, succeeds Mr Mariano Fernández Amunátegui of Chile, who completed his assignment on 31 January 2013.

The Secretary General is grateful to Mr Fernández Amunátegui for his determination and leadership of Minustah during a critical period for Haiti with the transition to a new Government and a challenging security situation. The Secretary-General also expresses his gratitude to Mr Nigel Fisher (Canada) who has provided excellent leadership in the interim. 


Honoré brings with her extensive experience working in multilateral settings, including as Chief of Staff, Office of the Assistant Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OAS) from 2000 to 2005. She had an assignment as special assistant to the Chief of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission to Haiti from 1995 to 1996. 

A career diplomat since 1979, Honoré has served Government in many capacities. She was T&T’s Ambassador to Costa Rica until August 2012 and she has also held a number of positions in the Foreign Service, including Chief of Protocol in the Foreign Ministry in 2007 and Director of the Caricom and Caribbean Affairs Division in 2005. Her prior diplomatic experience includes assignments in the United States from 1997 to 2000 and in Brazil from 1983 to 1988. She has also served in the Office of the Prime Minister. 

Ms Honoré is a graduate in Modern Languages from Besançon and Bordeaux Universities (France) and holds diplomas in International Relations from the University of the West Indies (St Augustine) and a Post-graduate Diploma in Conference Interpretation from the Polytechnic of Central London. 

Born in Tunapuna, in 1955, she is married and has one child.

Jamaica’s PM To meet with Chinese President in Trinidad

PORTIA5Jamaica's  Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will leave for Trinidad tomorrow morning, where she will meet with, His Excellency, Xi Jinping, President of China in Port of Spain.The discussions between the two Leaders will focus on areas of technical and economic cooperation between Jamaica and China, as well as exploring ways to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries and expanding opportunities for investment in Jamaica by China.

Prime Minister Simpson Miller will be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon AJ Nicholson, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Hon Anthony Hylton, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Paul Robotham, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Carlton Davis, High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Sharon Saunders as well as the Prime Minister’s Support Team.


In her absence Hon Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change will be in charge of the Government.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and her Team will return to Jamaica on Sunday afternoon.


New Cayman Islands Gov't sworn in

cayman-islands-premier-alden-mclaughlinThe new Premier of the Cayman Islands Alden McLaughlin along with the ten members of his new government this morning took the oath of office on the steps of the Legislative Assembly (LA) building in downtown George Town with Governor Duncan Taylor administering.


ST. KITTS/NEVIS - Dr Tim Harris Criticises PM And Governor General

Dr-Timothy-Harris-SKNSt. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Frustrated back-bencher Dr Timothy Harris is continuing to insist that the country currently has an illegal prime minister. 

The former senior government minister blames Prime Minister Denzil Douglas for a motion of no confidence against the Douglas administration not having been tabled and debated more than five months after being filed.

Dr Harris told Winn FM that both the prime minister and Governor General Sir Edmund Lawrence  are responsible for the current state of affairs. 

“And when a prime minister knows that he no longer commands the support of the majority of MPs, the proper thing is for him to go to the Governor General and say clearly, listen, I want to go to the people, or I will resign …,” Dr Harris suggested. 

Holding fast to his argument that Denzil Douglas is an illegal prime minister, the former senior government minister accused the head of government of abusing executive authority by deliberately delaying the hearing of the motion.

He cited the fact that six of the eleven elected parliamentarians in the House had written to the governor general explaining that they no longer supported Dr Douglas as  a move that should have received priority  attention.  “They have delivered that notice, which is a significant development in any other democracy,” former finance minister Harris said.

He added that the governor general had not treated the matter “with the kind of seriousness that he ought to have given, where we are at in the country, and given that reality”. 

The full interview with Dr Harris can be heard on Winn FM’s new programme – the Bigger Picture, scheduled for  2pm on Sunday. The programme will also take a look at the currency devaluation debate, and recent criticism of CARICOM.


CARICOM heads hold frank but cordial discussions with US VP Joe Biden

Biden Bissessar MartelliCARICOM’s Chairman and the President of Haiti, Michel Martelly says the recent discussions with US Vice President Joe Biden in Trinidad and Tobago has not only strengthend the relationship between the Caribbean and the United States.   Rather, It will no doubt help the United States to articulate clearly its policy toward the Caribbean and provide an overarching framework for the relationship and cooperation.


T&T and China hold bilateral talks

kamla2 591PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad - June 1, 2013  - Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and President of the Republic of China H.E. Xi Jinping, today held bilateral discussions, at the Diplomatic Centre in Port of Spain following which they held a press conference at which PM  Persdad Bissessar outlined the gist of the discussions.

The following is PM  Persdad Bissessar’s statement to the media:

Today has been an historic day for us in Trinidad and Tobago since it marks the first time we have had the honour of hosting a President of the People’s Republic of China on a state visit.

Your Excellency Xi Jinping … once again we welcome you and your distinguished delegation... on behalf of the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago. We are honoured that you are here.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media our connection with the People’s Republic of China is centuries old … with the most direct connection beginning more than 200 years ago when the first Chinese indentured labourers arrived in what was at that time the British colony of Trinidad.

Our two countries established diplomatic relations in 1974 and I am pleased to report that we will be establishing our first embassy in China this year.

We are also considering the establishment of a Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Institute, which would be attached to the Diplomatic Mission in Beijing.

This centre would promote Trinidad and Tobago’s creative industries through cultural exchanges, training seminars and cultural exhibitions in China. The Centre could also feature highly in Trinidad and Tobago’s public diplomacy initiatives in Asia.

During our discussions we also suggested that China and Trinidad and Tobago could co-host an annual Caribbean Music Festival in Beijing, which could become a signature event for promoting Asian/Caribbean Cultural Exchanges.

We will continue to facilitate high level delegations and cultural exchanges as we build on our economic and diplomatic relations. In that context I wish to let you know that I will be making an official visit to China in November this year by which time our embassy would be fully operational.

As you know the People’s Republic is assisting us with some major infrastructure projects including the George Bovell III Aquatic Centre, a cycling velodrome, a tennis centre, three multi-purpose sporting facilities, the South campus of the University of the West Indies and Children‘s Hospital Project in Couva. I invite you to join us later for a site visit.

Today we touched on a number of important areas in our bilateral discussions including trade and investment, energy, and mutual cooperation in regional and international affairs. We also signed a number of key Memoranda of Understanding.

  1.   Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement for 50 million RMB Yuan for social development project
  1.   Letters of exchange for the acquisition of a set of Linear Accelerator Xray, Scanning and Detection Scanning System
  1.   MOU for the establishment of the Confucius Institute  for language training at UWI, St. Augustine

With respect to ENERGY …

We noted China’s increased involvement in our energy sector with the entry of Sinopec Overseas Oil and Gas Limited (SOOGL) into the local petroleum sector and in 2011 the acquisition of a 10 per cent stake in Trinidad based natural gas producer, Atlantic LNG, by the China Investment Corporation, a Chinese Government special purpose company.

The recent agreement signed in 2011 between Lake Asphalt Trinidad and Tobago Ltd and the China Railway Construction Caribbean Company for the supply of asphalt to the Chinese market for a three-year period is of benefit to our two countries.

My Government is actively seeking to penetrate new markets regionally and internationally, and we see China as a key business partner and a potential new market for our energy products. Alternative and renewable energy research and development is also high on our developmental agenda and we welcomed the involvement of the Chinese in this area.

As you know we have been trying to diversify our economy and have identified six business clusters for the diversification of our local economy - the maritime industry, the energy industry, food sustainability, creative industries, tourism and financial services. 

We discussed how we might cooperate with Chinese firms with regard to the transfer of technical expertise in our efforts to develop the maritime industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Our embassy in China would be of great assistance in developing these business contacts.

We raised the possibility of developing with China a competitive shipbuilding and repair industry locally.


Our conversations included a number of health care projects including the construction of a Children’s Hospital in Couva, a hospital in Arima and China’s agreement to provide 100 health care professionals to the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago.

We understand the value of technical cooperation and discussed how we might continue to benefit from technical cooperation ventures with China. Some of the key areas we have identified for technical cooperation are:

·     Infrastructural Development

·     Agriculture and Food Security

·     Education

·     Sport

·     Information and Communication Technology

·     National Security

Thank you all.

CARICOM, US sign deal to strengthen trade and investment ties

US-Vice-President-Joe-Biden-right-gestures-as-he-speaks-with-Prime-Minister-Kamla-Persad-Bissessar-shortly-after-his-arrival-in-TT-for-a-short-visit.-PHOTO-ABRABidenGeorgetown, GINA, May 28, 2013 - The Secretary General of CARICOM and the Office of the United States (US) Trade Representative have been designated the main points for communication on the new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the region and the US Government.


The Cuban Government chastises the US for calling the country a “state sponsor of terrorism”

Bruno RodriguesPadillaHAVANA, Cuba, June 1, 2013 - The government of Cuba has once again castigated the U.S. State Department for reiterating what it calls an odd accusation that Cuba is a “State Sponsor of International Terrorism”.

A statement from Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says “Once again, this shameful decision has been made deliberately disregarding truth and ignoring the broad consensus and explicit demand by many sectors in U.S. society and the international community to put an end to this injustice.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it “strongly rejects the use of such sensitive issue as international terrorism for political purposes, and it demands an end to this shameful designation, which is offensive to the Cuban people, has as sole aim trying to justify by any means the anachronistic and cruel blockade against Cuba, and which discredits the very U.S. government.”

According to the Cuban Government, “the sole purpose of this discredited exercise against Cuba is attempting to justify the permanence of the blockade, a failed policy that is condemned by the entire world. It seeks also to please an ever smaller anti-Cuba group, stubbornly upholding a baseless policy, one that does not even represent the national interests of the United States, the majority of the U.S. people and of the Cuban immigration in that country.”

The statement notes that “the United States government insists on maintaining this arbitrary and unilateral designation with regards to Cuba, despite the total vanishing now of the ridiculous accusations and feeble arguments that in recent years have traditionally been used as an excuse, like the presence in our country of fugitives of U.S. justice, none of whom, incidentally, have been charged with terrorism.

It also claims that Cuba welcomes Basque militants of ETA, disregarding that this resulted from a request put forth by the governments involved. It also contends that members of the Colombian guerrillas are living in our country, which is an absurd accusation considering that since 2011 Cuba has accompanied, as guarantor, the peace process in Colombia.”

“The Cuban territory has never been used and will never be used to harbor terrorists of any origin, or to organize, fund, or carry out terrorist acts against any country in the world, including the United States. The Cuban government unequivocally rejects and condemns all acts of terrorism, carried out anywhere, under any circumstances and regardless of the motivations put forward,” the Cuban Government says.

The United States government, meanwhile, uses state terrorism as a weapon against countries that challenge its interests, causing deaths among the civilian population. It has used drones to carry out extrajudicial killings of suspected terrorists, even when they have been U.S. citizens, resulting in the death of hundreds of innocent civilians.

“The United States has historically been a safe haven for self-confessed terrorists and murderers of Cuban origin, and to date it continues to harbor Luis Posada Carriles, the mastermind behind the first terrorist attack on civil aviation in the Western Hemisphere: the October 6, 1976 mid-air explosion off the coast of Barbados of a Cubana de Aviación passenger plane, causing the death of all 73 passengers, among them the members of Cuba’s junior fencing team. Posada lives freely and peacefully in Miami, while Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez remain unjustly imprisoned for their fighting terrorism in the United States, accused of crimes that they did not commit,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry statement declared.

Cuba has suffered for decades the consequences of terrorist acts organized, financed and carried out from the territory of the United States, with a toll of 3,478 people dead and 2,099 disabled. The Cuban government does not recognize the United States government as having the slightest moral authority to judge Cuba.

As early as 2002, the Cuban government proposed to that of United States the adoption of a bilateral agreement to combat terrorism, an offer that was renewed in 2012 but which has remained unanswered.


Raul Castro Holds Talks with Dr. Kenny Anthony

Kenny and RaulHAVANA, Cuba, May 28 (acn) The President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raul Castro held official talks with the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Honorable Doctor Kenny Davis Anthony, who is paying and official visit to Cuba.


Regional ministers want return to CWC World Cup hassle free travel

CariPassGeorgetown, Guyana – June 1, 2013 - In recognition of the benefits derived from the Single Domestic Space (SDS) during the International Cricket Conference Cricket World Cup in 2007, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministers of Transport are recommending its reintroduction.


Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin and his cabinet to be sworn in today

Alden McLaughlin CaymanAlden McLaughlin new premier of CaymanGEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman, May 29, 2013 - The newly appointed Premier of the Cayman Islands, Alden McLaughlin, along with the members of his Cabinet will be officially sworn in today as government following last Wednesday's general election sweep.

He will be joined by Political veteran and former leader of government business Kurt Tibbetts who will be taking a leading role in the new Cabinet as the health, works, agriculture and community affairs minister.

Along with C4C Cabinet member Tara Rivers, Winston Connolly will also be sitting on the government back-bench and, following the rearrangement of the various portfolios, he will be appointed councillor to work with Rivers.

This follows McLaughlin official appointment by Cayman Islands governor Duncan Taylor to the post of premier. The appointment came following news that  former premier, Juliana O'Connor-Connolly who only recently resigned from the UDP, has joined the PPM.

McLaughlin confirmed that in addition to his role as premier he would take on the new public affairs ministry and also play an oversight role of the entire Cabinet. Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell will deal with tourism and district administration, while Marco Archer will take on development and planning with the finance ministry. Osbourne Bodden has been given education and sports, while Tara Rivers has confirmed her acceptance of labour, youth and gender affairs. Wayne Panton, who will be dealing with financial services, will also be taking on the environment.

Duncan Taylor said Tuesday that after he was informed that Juliana O'Connor-Connolly had joined the PPM and all of the other elected members of the PPM were offering him their support, the governor could make the constitutional appointment and he congratulated the new leader.

Although McLaughlin's PPM team was by far the largest political party or group returned to the LA after last Wednesday's general election, with nine seats the Progressives were one short of a majority.

McLaughlin needed the support of at least ten MLAs before the governor could appoint him as premier. The news that Juliana O'Connor-Connolly had actually joined the PPM cleared the way for McLaughlin to be appointed.

“I was today informed that the Hon Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, MLA, JP has joined the People’s Progressive Movement. This, in effect, gives the PPM a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly,” Taylor said.

Although O’Connor-Connolly had reserved any commitment to joining the party, last weekend she had offered her support publicly for the Progressives administration when she agreed to accept the speaker’s nomination. As the former PNA candidate made the decision Tuesday to become a card carrying member of the PPM, McLaughlin had enough support to formally become premier.

“I subsequently received a recommendation from all the elected members of that party as to who they would wish to be appointed Premier. In line with their recommendation and under Section 49 (2) of the Constitution, I have this afternoon appointed the Hon. Alden M. McLaughlin, Jr, MLA, MBE, JP as Premier of the Cayman Islands,” Taylor added. “I would like to congratulate the new premier on his appointment.”

Following the recent turmoil between the UK’s representative and the first premier of Cayman, McKeeva Bush, McLaughlin has said he hopes to improve on the relationship. The interim government led by O’Connor-Connolly made the first steps after Bush’s arrest in December to improve the soured UK-Cayman relationship. 

During the campaign McLaughlin spoke at length about the need to improve the relationship and work closely with the UK to address Cayman’s financial situation. He said he hopes his Cabinet can talk with the UK officials at the FCO about the long term budget plans so the PPM government can begin to lift the austerity tax package, giving the local economy a chance at recovery.

LaRocque welcomes Eastern Caribbean Court opinion on CCJ for St. Lucia

larocqueThe Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has welcomed the judgement of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal in respect of the process to be followed by Saint Lucia to provide for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as that country’s final court of appeal.


US deepely interested in partnership with CARICOM region says Biden

Biden-signsPORT OF SPAIN,  Trinidad, May 29, 2013 - US Vice President Joe Biden says one of the ways the US is looking to create growth in the region is through the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement that Biden and Martelly signed yesterday. 


St. Kitts and Nevis PM brands calls for unity government as “act of desperation”

denzildouglas-3BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, June 1, 2013 - As St. Kitts and Nevis awaits a court hearing in relation to a Motion of No Confidence filed by the opposition, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has described as “an act of desperation” efforts by the opposition, including two former government ministers, to form a government of unity if they are successful in the next general elections.


CARICOM leaders discuss criminal deportees with Biden

Biden-kamla-martellyRegional Governments have told US Vice President Joe Biden that the matter of criminal deportees from the US to the Caribbean was a great challenge to the countries of the region and the US needs to do more in terms of intelligence sharing in this regard.


Al-Rawi: Cops leaking sensitive e-mail info

Al-Rawi 0The investigation being headed by Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson into Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s e-mail claims must be immediately quashed and foreign experts appointed instead, as it seems to have been poisoned from the root.


JAMAICA - Youth Minister working to remove “uncontrollable” label from children

lisa-hannaKingston, May 28, 2013: The Cabinet has approved several measures to improve the situation of children who come in contact with the justice system. However, Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna says the Inter-Ministerial Working Group which she leads, will be going further.


Trade on agenda as China’s leader visits

jingping 0The official visit to T&T by China’s new head of state President Xi Jingping has generated different levels of expectation among Caricom member states.


Council of Trade and Economic Development focuses on transportation

CARICOMHQComplexCARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana: Msy 29, 2013- Enhanced cooperation among regional airlines and the feasibility of providing a fast ferry service in the Community to boost transportation will be among the main topics Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministers of Transport will consider on Wednesday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


Jamaica and Tanzania Exploring Cooperation in Education and Sport

portia-simpson-miller-creamPrime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has expressed Jamaica’s commitment to stronger relationships with Tanzania.


US Vice President Joe Biden arrives in T&T for CARICOM talks

Kamla-BidenPORT OF SPAIN, Trionidad, May 28, 2013 - United States Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Trinidad and Tobago last night. As Biden and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, stepped off the aircraft, they were met by the US Charge d’Affaires, Thomas Smitham, and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.