PORT OF SPAIN--Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley got a surprise calls from American President Donald Trump during which the leader of the twin-island republic was invited to Washington.
Although not much was disclosed about the conversation, the US Embassy in Trinidad said that in the call from Trump, which came around 4:40 p.m. on Sunday, the leaders “spoke about a number of issues of mutual interest to Trinidad and Tobago and the United States”.
It said the two agreed that both administrations would continue to strengthen the relationship which exists between the two countries. The Embassy also mentioned Trump’s invitation to Rowley on its social media pages.
“The two leaders reaffirmed the strong security partnership and agreed to continue close coordination in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime. President Trump invited Prime Minister Rowley to visit Washington, D.C., in the coming months,” it added.
Meantime, the Embassy announced earlier today that the US is working with the twin-island republic to fight money laundering and terrorism financing. It said that John Murphy, an economic crime advisor from US Treasury, is currently working with the T&T government regulatory, intelligence, investigative and prosecutorial entities to enhance capabilities and respond to concerns raised in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s Mutual Evaluation Report.
The technical assistance is based on an agreement signed between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago in August 2016.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad--Mexican cement manufacturer Cemex is paying US $86.36 million for Trinidad Cement Ltd. (TCL) and its three cement plants in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the company has said.
PARAMARIBO--The flash floods that have inundated villages in the hinterland, are slowly subsiding, Colonel Jerry Slijnhaard, National Coordinator Disaster Management NCCR has reported. Some 1,500 residents of Maroon villages in the Lower Marowijne river area have been relocated to higher grounds in recent days, after heavy downpours over the weekend.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti--Dozens of emaciated men with sunken cheeks and protruding ribs lie silently in an infirmary at Haiti’s largest prison, most too weak to stand. The corpse of an inmate who died miserably of malnutrition is shrouded beneath a plastic tarp.
Still from video of men saving the family.
PARAMARIBO--Four delivery men are being hailed as heroes after saving a mother and her two children from drowning last week. Political party VHP first presented them with a certificate of appreciation and some money. And over the weekend a foundation announced that it will also be giving them a monetary award for their heroics.
Amrish Mathoera, Giovanni Blankendaal, Lorenzo Dickson and Narin Dawtal were travelling over Wayamboweg in District Saramacca in their company’s delivery truck on Wednesday February 15, when the passenger vehicle in front suddenly swerved and made a nose dive into the canal alongside the road. The three wasted no time as the car started to go under; they dove in fully clothed, smashed the back window and pulled out the mother and her three children.
Video footage someone shot of the rescue operation, that has since gone viral on social media, shows the three men chest deep in the murky water, smashing the car window; the youngest child, a baby, is first lifted carefully out of the vehicle and passed from one man to the next to shore, while they remain cautious not to get the toddler wet. They then pull out another child, a boy of about seven years old.
Then, just seconds after they also lift the mom out, the car dramatically goes under; Blankendaal can be seen quickly reaching in at the last moment to pull out what looks like the boy’s school bag. The vehicle is then totally submerged.
Luckily none of the family members had been injured when the car crashed into the canal. The mother – 40-year-old S.B. – explained later that she had lost control over the steering wheel, which caused the crash. The men who saved her and her children became instant heroes, lauded and praised by all walks in the country.
On Friday, February 19, VHP Chairman Chandrika Santokhi presented them with the party’s reward, calling them role models of bravery for the entire community. “You guys had the bravery to take quick action when it was needed. This is the type of actions that show who we are: a community that is there for each other when it is needed,” the politician said.
But the praise did not stop there. On Saturday the Bennie Liefdadigheidsstichting (Bennie Charity 12-12-12) announced that it would be presenting the men with checks worth between SR $1,000 and SR $5,000 each. Charity chairman Ben Oliveira said it was important to honour the men, because “these days we – and especially the youth – need to know what heroism is and that it is still alive. The youth seem to think that it’s better to look tough; whereas back in the day young people would help an old lady cross the street, they make fun of those that do those kinds of things today. We want to send out a signal that says that we think it’s important that we help one another,” he said.
GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands--World Boxing Champion Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines is partnering with a leading Caribbean hospital and charity to bring free cardiac care to children from his homeland.
PARAMARIBO--Police say they have arrested two Customs officers in connection with the 978 kilograms of cocaine that was caught last week at Nieuwe Haven, the harbour complex in the capital of Paramaribo. A press release from the Police Public Relations (PR) department stated on Thursday that both officers are women.
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua--Regional airline LIAT has announced the first casualties of its route cuts.
ROSEAU, Dominica--A member of the Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) in Dominica is considering legal action after being questioned by police over an alleged coup attempt.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados--Caribbean tourism broke new ground last year, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time ever and once again growing faster than the global average.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti--Haiti’s Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles has resigned to allow the country’s new president to form a new government.
ROSEAU, Dominica--Charges and countercharges are making the rounds in Dominica as police continue investigations to get to the bottom of Tuesday’s violent disturbance following an anti-government protest, which resulted in the vandalism of nine businesses and 32 arrests.
While Prime Minister (PM) Roosevelt Skerrit has revealed details of an alleged attempt by opposition parties to “seize the seat of power,” Opposition Leader Lennox Linton has dismissed the claim as “another lie” the PM has concocted to win the sympathy of Dominicans.
In a national address Wednesday night, in which he painstakingly outlined the sequence of events leading up to the disturbance, Skerrit charged that it was the “militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership of the main opposition [United Workers Party – Ed.] UWP and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) that triggered the action.
The PM said police had been tipped off about a plan by opposition forces.
“It is important for me to share with you the plan, which was relayed to intelligence personnel in the Dominica Police Force. Fortunately, for us all, not every member of the United Workers Party and Dominica Freedom Party is supportive of the militant, irresponsible behaviour of the leadership. So, details of the plan had already been shared with the police and security officials,” Skerrit told the nation.
“The police had information that the intent of the leadership was to stall the truck in front the Financial Centre and storm the barriers with the intent of entering the building. This was the intent of the leadership of the United Workers Party and the Dominica Freedom Party. This is how they intended to seize the seat of power in the country. They would have stormed the Financial Centre Building and sought to occupy the building until their demands were met.”
Earlier in the day, the opposition parties led supporters in what was supposed to be an 11:00am to 3:00pm public meeting near the Financial Centre where Skerrit’s office is located.
The PM said the meeting had proceeded “peacefully and consistent with the intent and spirit of the agreement reached between the police and the leaderships of the two opposition parties the day before,” but when Linton took control of the microphone around 2:50pm, “it changed the course of events and resulted in Dominica making world headlines all day today [Thursday – Ed.], and not for a good reason.”
Skerrit said after the meeting was finished, the driver of the truck in front of the Financial Centre was ordered by police to proceed west, but it could not be driven forward because a mob was blocking it, and the atmosphere of the crowd then started to deteriorate.
“At about 6:30pm, the crowd started agitating and started chanting ‘Skerrit must go.’ In all this, the leadership of the UWP and DFP said or did nothing to contain the emotions of their supporters,” Skerrit said, noting that earlier Linton had spoken for an hour and 15 minutes after the agreed time indicating that the meeting would only end when he was ready.
“This is when and where the cue was given for persons to do whatever they deemed necessary to forcibly and unlawfully remove a democratically elected government from office,” Skerrit said, adding that the events that later unfolded were “as a direct consequence and a result of the decision by Lennox Linton to say, in effect, ‘to hell with the police, we shall do as we please.’”
However, speaking on radio Thursday morning, Linton hit back, categorically denying there was a plan to overthrow the government.
“There was no plan at all, no plan at all that Lennox Linton and the leadership of the United Workers Party is aware of, to storm the Financial Centre,” he stated.
The UWP Leader also challenged the PM to reveal the source of his intelligence, maintaining that he had no knowledge of the alleged plot.
“Lennox Linton, on behalf of the leadership of the UWP, is asking him to pull away the veil of intelligence and say specifically who was behind that plot,” he noted. “Call names, because whoever advised your intelligence would have told them where X or Y discussed that or told me that on such and such a time,” Dominica News Online reported.
Linton was adamant since Wednesday that the looting and violence on Tuesday night had had nothing to do with his party. ~ Caribbean360 ~
ROSEAU, Dominica--Scenes of shattered store windows, scattered rocks and piles of debris in Dominica’s capital Roseau Wednesday morning were grim reminders of a night of violent protests.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti--Haiti officially has a new elected president.
Jovenel Moise was installed Tuesday morning as the French-speaking nation’s 58th president in a brief ceremony that was attended by former President Michel Martelly, as well as Caribbean and international dignitaries.
The 48-year-old entrepreneur and political novice took the oath of office at the Haitian Parliament, a year after Martelly left office without a successor and Jocelerme Privert filled the post in the interim.
With a Bible in hand, Moise vowed to protect the Constitution and work to improve the lives of Haitians.
Senate President Youri Latortue, who led the ceremony, assured the new president that he had the support of Parliament and the country, adding that Haitians were ready to get to work to restore stability.
“The Haitian people are ready to assume their responsibility with the Haiti National Police and Haitian army. You are the president of all Haitians, regardless of their political family or ideology,” Latortue said.
President Moise was expected to deliver a speech later Tuesday outlining his Government’s priorities.
Guyana’s president David Granger represented the Caribbean Community Caricom at the ceremony that was also attended by Trinidad and Tobago’s President Anthony Carmona.
Granger, the incoming Caricom chairman, told The Miami Herald ahead of the ceremony that the regional group was standing behind Moise.
“It’s not just a matter of showing solidarity with a country that has suffered more than any other Caricom member state in terms of environmental disasters, but it’s also an important statement in terms of our confidence in the democratic process in this country,” he said.
US President Donald Trump also sent a delegation to the inauguration. His government later also sent a message of congratulations.
Moise shrugged off a contentious election victory in October 2015 that was later thrown out after widespread allegations of fraud, to win 55 per cent of the vote in a rerun last November.
His swearing-in was boycotted by a number of Haitian lawmakers, including four senators. They had raised concern about Moise’s fitness for the job in light of a money-laundering investigation levelled against him.
The Associated Press reported Monday that government prosecutor Danton Leger had ordered an investigative judge to look deeper into the allegations.
Moise has dismissed the allegations as a witch hunt being led by his political opponents. ~ Caribbean360 ~
PARAMARIBO--The state Suriname has formally filed its appeal against the court ruling that ordered the Civil Registrar to register transgender Yvanna Hilton as a woman. In its filings, the state argues that Suriname does not have legislation that governs transgender matters. “Therefore there is no violation of Hilton’s human rights,” it stated.
KINGSTON, Jamaica--Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers says over 100 illegal firearms have been confiscated since the start of the year through the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) “Get the Guns” campaign.
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica--One man has been taken into custody for questioning in connection with the murder of fifteen-year-old Shineka Gray, the grade ten Green Pond High School student whose partially decomposed body was found riddled with stab wounds Wednesday afternoon, three days after she was reported missing.
HAMILTON, Bermuda--Michael DeSilva admitted Wednesday that the police’s plan for dealing with the December 2 protest “didn’t work” with regard to ensuring Parliament was able to sit.
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua--A secondary school teacher in Antigua is facing an attempted murder charge after allegedly striking a student in the head with a rock.