Caribbean Briefs – March 26-09


Georgetown, Guyana: Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy, who is also president of the World Health Assembly, has condemned Pope Benedict’s call for ending condom use in the fight against AIDS.

“The statement by the Pope is inconsistent with science, it’s inconsistent with our experiences and it is not in sync with what Catholics have experienced and believe,” Ramsammy said.

Declaring the position by the Pope on condom use as “absolutely and unequivocally wrong”, the health minister recommended the continued use of condoms as part of an overall strategy that includes education, fidelity and monogamy.

Ramsammy said he planned to rally support among health ministers of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is predominantly Roman Catholic.


 Kingston, Jamaica: The Bruce Golding administration is working on an anti-gang strategy to deal with the growing problem of criminal gangs in the island.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese, said the initiative will not only cover law enforcement, but also critical areas necessary to respond to the problems created by the criminal gangs.

“This strategy is expected to take a fulsome, sustained, co-ordinated approach to confronting the gang problem in Jamaica,” he said.

Reese noted that the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) must also be urgently implemented to ensure that persons do not enjoy profits generated from crime.


 Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe: One of the leaders of the Caribbean archipelago’s recent strike has raised doubts about his participation in planned talks on relations between France and its overseas territories.

Union leader Elie Domota says the issues being put on the agenda have nothing to do with the demands made by the strikers.

“If once again it’s about getting the same people in suits and ties to decide Guadeloupe’s future for 20 or 25 years in a matter of weeks, then they needn’t bother,” said Domota.

The general strike brought Guadeloupe to a standstill for 44 days.

The talks, scheduled by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, are scheduled to start in April.


 Havana, Cuba: Cuba’s state-controlled media is downplaying a relaxation of U.S. restrictions on family travel and remittances.

The Communist Party’s newspaper, Granma, said the changes announced by U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this month do not affect what it called “the siege that successive administrations have maintained against Cuba”.

The changes allow Americans with relatives in Havana to visit once a year, stay as long as they wish and spend up to $179 a day.

However, the changes will only remain in effect until the financial year ends on September 30 this year.

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