Caribbean News in Brief – December 23-09

PREDICTION

Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis: Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas hasn’t announced a date for elections, but the main opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) is predicting a January 18 poll.

PAM leader Lindsay Grant told supporters at a rally that he had been reliably informed that elections would be held on that date and he said his party was fully prepared.

“Freedom Day is near. January 18, 2010 is Freedom Day in St. Kitts-Nevis,” said Grant. “We are prepared, we are ready, and we are going to defeat Denzil Douglas and the Labour Party at the polls come the next general elections.”

Hours before Parliament would have automatically expired last Tuesday night, Dr. Douglas announced its dissolution, but said he would announce the date for the poll in the coming weeks. Elections must be called by March 2010.

Although he gave no date, Douglas said teams from the Commonwealth, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS) have already accepted invitations to observe the polls when they are held.

CRISIS CONTINUES

Kingston, Jamaica: Heavy rainfall over the weekend helped marginally to increase the water levels in Kingston’s two main catchment facilities.

Charles Buchanan, spokesman for the National Water Commission, says the utility is thankful for the showers, which resulted in some improvement in inflows to the facilities.

However, he said consumers will still need to conserve. Despite the slight improvement, the rains were not enough to encourage the utility to ease restrictions on supply.

“While this improvement is more noticeable than in others and we are appreciative of all the rainfall that we have received, it has not changed the overall concern that we have for general storage,” Buchanan said. “So we still are faced with a critical situation.”

SETTLEMENT

Miami, Florida: U.S. immigration officials have paid $47,500 to a detained Haitian woman who was denied treatment for uterine fibroid tumours, according to her attorneys.

The woman, identified only as “Rosemarie M.” in court documents for privacy reasons, had suffered from daily bleeding and pain for months before immigration detained her in Florida in April.

Tania Galloni, an attorney at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Centre, said medical records provided to the department showed that she needed surgery, but detention medical staff trivialized her complaints.

The woman underwent surgery on December 1. She was released from custody 11 days later after reaching a settlement with the department.

WORRIED

Georgetown, Guyana: Guyanese police say there has been a drop in arms trafficking into the country.

Although officers view this is as positive news, they believe it has resulted in criminals resorting to renting guns to commit crimes.

“We have evidence of renting of firearms by bandits,” said Police Commissioner Henry Greene.

In the past, the nation’s security forces have identified neighbouring Suriname and Brazil as major sources of illegal rifles and hand-guns.

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