Caribbean News in Brief for June 2, 2011

Caribbean News in Brief for June 2, 2011



Port-au-Prince, Haiti: The United Nations says health partners in Haiti are responding promptly to increasing cases of cholera in the Ouest department to ensure that the new infections do not spread to Port-au-Prince.

“Given the early detection of alerts, a prompt response is under way,” said UN World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Fadela Chaib.

She said the current surge in the number of cases in Ouest department is a reminder of the need for vigilance. 

“Haiti will be facing cholera for years unless water and sanitation issues are properly fixed,” Chaib warned.

A cholera outbreak that erupted in Haiti in October last year has claimed more than 4,500 lives and nearly 300,000 people fell ill with the disease. Fresh infections continue to occur.

A report by an independent panel set up by the UN to investigate the source of the cholera outbreak concluded that a “confluence of circumstances,” and not the fault of any group or individual, was responsible for the fast-moving outbreak.

The four-member panel of experts included a series of recommendations for the UN and the Haitian government so they can help prevent the future introduction and spread of cholera.


Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: Winston Dookeran, political leader of the Congress of the People (COP), has announced that he will not seek to retain leadership of the party he helped form in 2006.

The COP will hold internal elections on July 3.

Dookeran made the announcement last weekend following an emergency meeting at the party’s headquarters, noting concerns about his manner of leadership.

“Many have been dissatisfied with my style of leadership,” said Dookeran. “I acknowledge that each individual has his own style but what I do know is that it is not style that matters, it is content that matters, content measured in the end by results.”

However, he said this would not affect his position in government and he would remain finance minister and parliamentary representative for the constituency of Tunapuna.

Dookeran said he did not expect his decision to affect the relationship between the COP and the ruling People’s Partnership (PP) coalition, of which the Congress is a part.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she was saddened by Dookeran’s decision but congratulated him on “his very brave stand”.

“He is a great asset to the Partnership and I look forward to continue working with Mr. Dookeran,” she said. “I have no reason to believe he will do otherwise.”

Dookeran played a major role in the formation of the PP coalition which includes the COP, the United National Congress headed by Persad-Bissessar, the Tobago Organization of the People, the National Joint Action Committee and the Movement for Social Justice.

The coalition was established ahead of the May 24, 2010 general elections as an opposition bloc against the then ruling People’s National Movement.


Bridgetown, Barbados: A petition has been created by supporters of regional low-cost carrier REDjet to force the authorities in Jamaica and Trinidad to give the airline clearance to fly there.

As of press time, The ‘Freedom of Caribbean Air Travel’ petition, created last weekend, had garnered more than 125 signatures from people across the region.

The document, addressed to the governments of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, appeals for an explanation for the REDjet delays.

“The blocking of this air carrier could also produce job losses in the carrier itself, and in other services it uses such as marketing, aircraft ground services and airport counter services if it is prolonged,” according to the document. “We, the people, would like to know the reasons for the blocking of REDjet from these destinations.”

Last Thursday, REDjet announced that it had scrapped plans to operate flights between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago and had also postponed the service between Barbados and Jamaica until July 24, citing ongoing regulatory delays.

The announcement came the same day that Trinidad and Tobago’s national carrier, Caribbean Airlines, and Air Jamaica completed their merger.


St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua’s United Nations Ambassador will run the Executive Board of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) next year.

Dr. John Ashe received the endorsement of the UN Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) to serve as President of the Board for a one-year term beginning January 1, 2012. He recently completed a successful tenure as President of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA.

The Executive Board is the governing body of UNICEF, providing intergovernmental support and oversight to the organization, in accordance with the overall policy guidance of the United Nations General Assembly and its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It also reviews UNICEF activities and approves its policies, country programs and budgets.

“This is no small achievement for our twin-island nation and I would like to thank the 32 countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region for the singular honour they have bestowed on the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda,” said Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who announced Ashe’s selection.

“UNICEF is globally recognized as a driving force that is working towards a world where the rights of every child are realized and through a variety of partners at grassroots level is unique among world organizations working with the young to try and turn the most innovative ideas into reality,” he added.

The Board meets three times each year at the UN headquarters in New York – in a first regular session in January/February, an annual session May/June and a second regular session in September.

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