Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up
PetroCaribe's new lease of life
Goodbye Sir Alex
Regional aviation - another flight path
Hacking in the Caribbean
PetroCaribe’s new lease of life
The importance of PetroCaribe in the Caribbean has long been documented.
So it’s no surprise that so much attention was given to the future of the concessionary fuel-based alliance after the death of its founder, Hugo Chavez.
Therefore, the first PetroCaribe alliance summit on 5 May under new Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was vital to finding out in what direction the country’s new leader wants to take the grouping.
The end-of-summit announcement included an agreement to work towards a PetroCaribe Economic Zone and the admittance of Honduras and Guatemala into the grouping.
President Maduro was quoted in a news release by Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA as saying that a high-level team would be set up.
It will assess “all possibilities and opportunities so that, on 29 June, firm economic, commercial and financial actions can be taken within the framework of the PetroCaribe Economic Zone”.
The new Venezuelan leader described the zone as being aimed at “strengthening and widening our energy stability, consolidating financial stability, managing all financial aspects of PetroCaribe and encouraging the investment of key elements”.
At the summit, Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, recommended an audit process for the accounts of member states to ensure transparency.
Since that attempt to breathe new life into the alliance, there have been various developments in member countries:
· Mid-week, Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies served two notices on President Michel Martelly, requesting reports on the status of PetroCaribe funds.
· In Jamaica, the country’s Energy Minister, Phillip Paulwell, said that Kingston would discuss a trade compensation agreement to fulfil its payments under PetroCaribe.
· And Guyana has announced that it will resume its exports under its rice-for-oil deal with Venezuela.
According to Venezuela’s El Universal newspaper, PDVSA recorded growing fuel exports last year.
PDVSA’s 2012 annual report said that it delivered 121,000 barrels per day last year, in comparison with 94,600 on average in 2011.
Nicaragua saw the largest oil delivery increase.
PDVSA also reported that the value of the commodities received by Venezuela in exchange for oil deliveries “skyrocketed by 76%”.
Most of this amount came “mainly from Guyana, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic”.
Goodbye Sir Alex
For a region and diaspora packed with passionate Manchester United fans, the news that Sir Alex Ferguson was stepping down as the club’s manager was always going to cause a stir.
From the world’s fastest man, to diplomats, to one of its most famous bards, the reaction was a rapid one.
Alex Ferguson’s 8 May statement was followed by a short and to the point tweet from the man himself: “After many years with Manchester United, I have decided that the time has come to call it a day. It has been such an honour. Thank you.”
One of Man U’s biggest fans, track superstar Usain Bolt, responded with a similarly short tweet: “A major iconic football figure.”
The Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ric Todd, shared with Caribbean Intelligence© his tweet to Sir Alex: “Thank you Sir.”
For his part, David Rudder, calypsonian and chronicler of the Caribbean’s sentiments, even penned a goodbye song called Fergie which he shared with Caribbean Intelligence©.
Sir Alex, when you take that much-deserved break, we at Caribbean Intelligence© think you’ll find no shortage of goodwill and red-carpet hospitality in the Caribbean.
The Caribbean has long been crying out for successful new airlines and aviation business models. Attempts have been numerous, but rarely fruitful.
In the latest effort, Liat shareholder governments were due to meet on 10 May to discuss the airline’s business plans.
Liat has repeatedly criticised the fuel subsidy to Trinidad-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and suggested closer working relations with the airline.
Playing down claims that he had called for a single Caribbean airline, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told a news conference: “I would like to see a complete revamping of air transportation in the region so that we can get all the relevant synergies.”
Liat shareholders – Antigua, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent – had hoped that Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, would have been able to attend the 10 May meeting.
Instead, Mr Gonsalves, as chairman of the airline’s stakeholders, and Liat officials will travel to Port of Spain to hold talks with the Trinidadian leader.
Hacking in the region
A survey by internet security organisation Trend Micro and the Organisation of American States (OAS) has found a pattern of increased cyber-crime in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The report by the two organisations is based on a survey of data from 20 of the 32 OAS member countries for the period 2011-12.
It found increases of up to 40% in incidents such as hacking, attacks on online banking and probing into infrastructure IT systems.
It said that “although hacktivism is a growing trend, financially motivated crimes remain the most common, in line with the global trend”.
The report found that file infectors had been the most prevalent type of malware in Latin America and the Caribbean, “pointing to a lack of user security awareness, unpatched [operating systems] and use of insecure removable media”.
When it comes to the cyber-criminals themselves, those in the region are using free hosting services to launch their attacks, taking advantage of trial periods to launch short-lived but hard-to-trace campaigns.
It added that criminals were designing their own “crimeware” kits and using social media to advertise their wares.
Trend Micro added: “The response from law enforcement and governments in the region [was] uneven at best, with inexperienced police teams, poor legislation, limited sharing between governments and poor collaboration between all stakeholders adding to the problem.
“However, governments are learning, and increasingly following the lead of the UK, US and others in drawing up cyber security strategies, creating CSIRTs [computer security and incident report teams] and improving their response.
“In many cases, the widespread publicity given to attacks, especially hacktivist threats, has galvanised efforts, although limited expertise remains a problem.”
The report concluded that the way to counter such activity would be through:
· greater awareness from users
· certified network instructors and governments
· more IT training
· technical specialisation
· and government investment.
More case studies checked by Caribbean Intelligence© on specific OAS countries found a 14% increase in cyber-incidents in Jamaica, which it said government was tackling through a large-scale awareness-raising campaign aimed at students.
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