Caribbean News in Briefs – October 18, 2010

NEW LEADER

Bridgetown, Barbados: Owen Arthur has been named leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) again.

He was chosen on Monday at a meeting of some of the party’s parliamentarians to replace Mia Mottley.

Following the meeting, BLP Chairman George Payne said Mottley no longer had the support of the majority of the opposition parliamentarians.

“Owen Seymour Arthur is the person we support,” said Payne. “The necessary letter has gone to the Governor General and we await his decision with respect to that.”

The decision to return Arthur, 61, who had handed over the leadership to Mottley after the BLP lost the 2008 general election, was reportedly agreed to by all the MPs who attended the meeting – Payne, Ronald Toppin, Gline Clarke, William Duguid and Dale Marshall.

Three others – Mottley, Cynthia Forde and Rawle Eastmond – did not attend.

The BLP and its supporters have been at odds over who should be leader. Several BLP supporters showed up at the Parliament buildings after news broke that Mottley had been ousted, insisting that she should remain leader.

The development comes less than a week after Mottley survived a challenge to her leadership following a four-hour meeting with the same five MPs who voted for Arthur.

COMPENSATION

Kingston, Jamaica: The families of two Jamaican farm workers who died in Canada last month have received CAN$15,000 (US$14,904/J$1.26 million) in compensation from the insurance plan operated by the Jamaican Liaison Service and will be taken care of for some time to come.

“Each family has received an initial lump sum payment, which is the maximum payable under the Workmen Safety and Insurance Scheme,” said Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles. “In addition, spouses and children will receive a monthly allowance.”

The spouse will receive the monthly payment until death, while children will be a recipient of the money until age 19, or up to 30 if they are in university.

Charles said he felt it was a reasonable package.

On September 10, 37-year-old Paul Roach and 43-year-old Ralston White, both regular farm workers on the Canadian Overseas Employment Program, died in a work related accident at the Filsinger’s Organic Foods farm in Ontario.

Charles said the circumstances surrounding the accident are still being investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police, as well as the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Health and Safety Division and the Jamaican Liaison Service.

SUPPORT FOR CARIBBEAN

Ottawa, Canada: Minister of International Cooperation, Beverley Oda, has announced CAN$3.5 million (US$3.4 million) in support to help reduce the impact of natural disasters in the Caribbean.

The contribution, made through the Canadian International Development Agency, will go to a Canadian Red Cross project to help Caribbean countries and communities better prepare for natural disasters. The initiative will help deliver training that will enable people living in vulnerable communities in the region to better understand the hazards in their environment, adopt practices that will make their homes safer, and help them prepare for disasters, the Canadian government said.

Canada’s support for this project is a component of its CAN$20 million (US$19.8 million) Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Program. Other projects under this initiative help to improve the safety of hospitals, develop health disaster plans, strengthen the coordination of disaster response activities, and build better emergency telecommunications systems.

DELAY

Paramaribo, Suriname: The murder trial of Suriname president Desi Bouterse and 11 associates is due to resume in one month.

Presiding judge Cynthia Valstein-Montnor has warned defense lawyers that they would not have unlimited opportunities to call witnesses.

Valstein-Montnor was forced to call a postponement last Friday after none of the defense witnesses appeared to testify.

Bouterse and his associates are charged in the December 1982 deaths of 15 opponents of his then military dictatorship.

Bouterse was installed as Suriname’s president in August. He has vowed that he will not interfere in the trial.

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