Caribbean News in Brief — November 15, 2010

CHOLERA PROTESTS

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: As the cholera epidemic continues, Haitians have launched violent protests against United Nations peacekeepers, who are being blamed for the outbreak.

UN troops fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators throwing stones and blocking roads in Cap Haitien – Haiti’s second city.

Some Haitians have accused peacekeepers from Nepal of introducing cholera to Haiti for the first time in a century. As of press time, 900 people have died from the epidemic.

The UN says no evidence has been found to justify the accusation, but the cholera strain has been matched to one from South Asia.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, Nigel Fisher, said the epidemic had moved beyond a health crisis to become an issue of national security.

ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Parliament was dissolved on Monday ahead of elections next month.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announced at a public meeting last Sunday that general elections will be held on December 13.

During the meeting, Dr. Gonsalves, who is seeking a third straight term, expressed confidence that his leadership demonstrated in office will ensure victory.

Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace said he was confident his National Democratic Party would unseat the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP).

In the last election five years ago, the ULP won 12 of the 15 seats in the House of Assembly.

STRUGGLING AFTER TOMAS

Castries, St. Lucia: Some St. Lucian communities are still having difficulties coping in the aftermath of the destruction inflicted on the island by Hurricane Tomas.

The local Red Cross says it is trying to reach the most vulnerable.

However, spokesperson Marva Oculien says inadequate road access is making that task challenging.

She says while most of the major road networks have been restored, getting into the smaller communities is very difficult because of the road conditions.

GOVERNMENT CRITICIZED

Havana, Cuba: Just released dissident Arnaldo Ramos has blasted the Cuban government, warning that chaos is looming if the island does not launch economic and political change.

The 68-year-old economist said he would be involved in the same activities he did before he was imprisoned by authorities.

He is one of 13 jailed dissidents who refused to leave the country and go into exile.

Cuban activists have expressed hope that the rest of his fellow inmates will also be set free within days.

Arnaldo Ramos was one of 52 prisoners the government agreed to release after talks with the archbishop of Havana in July.

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