PARAMARIBO, Suriname: Barbados is now the 10th Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member-state to sign a visa waiver agreement with Haiti, allowing Haitian diplomats and business people to visit the island without a visa.
The agreement is expected to spark an increase in trade and economic cooperation which could help rebuild the earthquake-ravaged country by boosting its economy.
Speaking during the just concluded 23rd Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM here, Suriname’s foreign affairs minister, Winston Lackin, lauded the visa waiver agreements and said they are part of the effort to assist in the rebuilding of Haiti.
CARICOM member-states made a strong case for the continued support for Haiti through advocacy.
HAVANA, Cuba: Cuba’s exclusion from the 6th Summit of the Americas scheduled to take place in April has been criticized as being “unacceptable”.
Foreign affairs minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, says Cuba has rejected its exclusion which, he said, was due to pressure from the United States.
He said the U.S. government’s attitude was unjustified, adding that Cuba’s participation in the Cartagena de Indias forum was vetoed from the inception.
He charged that America’s stance comes as a result of its scorn for the dignity of the countries of the region and is part of an economic, political and media blockade to undermine the people’s confidence in the revolution.
Call for Kidneys
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago: Officials here are calling for the donation of kidneys from recently deceased persons to ensure that there is an adequate supply of kidneys for those dependent on dialysis.
According to health authorities, a live donor can only help one person, while a deceased person has the potential to help at least two people at one time.
The Ministry of Health is urging nationals to contact the National Organ Transplant Unit and become organ donors. To date, 300 people have registered since its launch in March 2007.
As of December 2011, there were 699 people in the twin-island state receiving dialysis treatment at both private and public health care facilities. The number of organ donors is not nearly enough to meet the need, as only 83 kidney transplants were performed in the last six years, only three of which came from deceased donors.
However, there are concerns as Trinidad & Tobago reports that more than half of its population (55.5 per cent) over the age of 15, and 25 per cent of school children between the ages of five and 18, are overweight or obese.
Further, over 40 per cent of the country’s population does not exercise regularly, and an overwhelming 90.8 per cent eat less than the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
Dubai company sets its sights on St. Kitts
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: A hotel and residential development company in Dubai plans to launch a luxury hospitality project in St. Kitts.
Range Hospitality specializes in developing hotels and residences in pilgrimage sites, though the company plans to expand their reach over the next three to four years with a US$1-billion investment in new projects in the Middle East and St. Kitts.
Munaf Ali, CEO of Range Hospitality, told Arabian Business that in addition to five-star religious tourism properties in Mecca and Medina, Range Developments will soon be launching luxury hospitality projects in Baghdad and St. Kitts. Details of the St. Kitts project have not yet been made public.
While Range Hospitality currently oversees projects in the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf, reportedly worth around US$500 million, Ali said the company plans to invest an additional US$500-million in projects in Saudi Arabia and beyond.
Last month, Range began the construction of the US$175-million Al Rawdatain Residences hotel project in Karbala, due to be completed by the end of 2013.
Reports say the company also aims to operate both 3- and 4-star hotels in Najaf by 2015.