Caribbean News in Brief for February 10, 2011


St. George’s, Grenada: Former Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is defending Caribbean Airlines’ plans to compete head-on with LIAT (Leeward Islands Air Transport) in the Eastern Caribbean.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves criticized the Trinidad and Tobago government last week for stating it intends to have the carrier compete with and eventually take over LIAT.

Dr. Gonsalves said that move would amount to unfair competition and would be in contravention of the rules of CARICOM.

Caribbean Airlines is reported to have spent around US$200 million to acquire nine planes to service routes flown by LIAT.

Dr. Mitchell, currently Grenada’s opposition leader, says he supports the Caribbean Airlines initiative because despite the investments made in LIAT over the years it has failed “to improve its operation and provide much more optimal transport throughout the region”.


Kingston, Jamaica: Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr. Christopher Tufton says despite the challenges the agricultural sector faced during the 2009/2010 period, the industry recovered well to demonstrate sustainable growth.

Based on preliminary estimates, the overall sector showed an increase of one per cent, he said.

Dr. Tufton noted that while the weather went from drought to flooding, farmers were still able to put in a credible performance.

“We were still able to come out performing better this past year, over the year before, even if just marginally,” he added.

Jamaica was struck with severe drought early in the year, followed by a period of good weather, which ended when the country was hit by Tropical Storm Nicole in September.

The storm and the subsequent extended rainy season negatively affected production for the remainder of the year and figures show that from October to December, production of domestic crops recorded a decrease of 6.7 per cent.


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Several hundred police officers in Trinidad and Tobago stayed off the job on Monday in protest over their pay package.

The officers are protesting a 5 per cent salary increase offered by the government.

They argue that a 15 to 20 per cent increase would be a much more reasonable offer.

President of the Police Association, Anand Ramesar, said the officers’ action caused significant disruption in a number of areas, including court proceedings.

Magistrate court in the city was completely shut down as officers were not there to man the courts.

A statement from Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs has condemned the Police Association for encouraging what he called an illegal stay away from work by members of an essential service.

Gibbs said officers on leave were called out to fill vacancies.


Port-au-Prince, Haiti: The Haitian government issued a new passport to former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Monday.

A government official confirmed that the passport was issued, adding that the document had been handed over to Miami-based Aristide lawyer Ira Kurzban.

The decision will enable Aristide to end his exile in South Africa and return to Haiti.

Aristide has been living in South Africa since being ousted in 2004.

In recent months, he has repeatedly requested to be allowed to return home.

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