Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up
Petrocaribe summit due
New Haiti/ Dom Rep border deal
British embassy for Haiti
The UK's new children's laureate
A loan for island-hopping airline Liat is the next proposal in the ongoing discussion over the future of pan-regional travel.
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has been asked to back a project to upgrade Liat’s fleet with a Caricom-backed loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Liat chief executive Ian Brunton has asked for the airline to be classified as an essential service.
Caribbean leaders will have the divisive issue of pan-Caribbean aviation on their agenda again at their next summit, which is to be held in July in Trinidad.
The issue has been bubbling back up to the top of the regional agenda since Liat shareholders called for Trinidad’s subsidy of its regional airline Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to come under scrutiny.
In addition, CAL cost-cutting announcements have been partially linked to the Trinidad-owned airline’s acquisition of Air Jamaica two years ago. CAL management said that Air Jamaica had contributed US$32m of CAL’s losses.
At the start of the month, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, said that the relationship between CAL and Air Jamaica was a great cause of concern for the Jamaican people.
Pan-Caribbean aviation has long been a thorny issue for the Caribbean, while the need for fuel subsidies has also plagued smaller airlines seeking to service the region’s island-hopping needs.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said he’s pressing ahead with plans for a Petrocaribe economic zone by the end of June.
Speaking during a visit to Nicaragua, the new Venezuelan leader said that details of the “economic integration” would be divulged at a 29 June Petrocaribe summit of heads of state and government to be held in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.
A statement reported by the Haitian media said: “With the economic zone, the role of Petrocaribe will expand beyond oil provisions at favourable prices to economic and financial conventions among members.”
Prensa Latina reported that President Maduro said the establishment of the zone would be a “big step”.
President Maduro had previously mentioned plans to step up integration between Petrocaribe states at a meeting held in May, shortly after his narrow election victory.
Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Suriname are members of Petrocaribe.
New Hispaniola environmental deal
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) used World Environmental Day to announce a new border deal on environmental control between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola.
Aerial photos of the border clearly indicate the level of environmental devastation caused by deforestation in the quest for charcoal on the Haitian side of the border.
Even those not familiar with Haiti’s deforestation problems can see the impact of storms year by year, as denuded hills cause larger flooding in Haiti than in any other country in the Caribbean hurricane season’s natural path.
A report jointly gathered by the UNEP, the Haitian and Dominican Republic governements, the World Food Programme and the UN Development Programme, funded by the governments of Sweden and Norway, has led to a US$136m five-year programme to redress the damage.
The project will include work on protecting remaining vegetation cover, increasing that cover, promoting sustainable agricultural development, diversifying trade across the Haitian Dominican border and promoting curbs on the cross-border charcoal trade.
The deal was signed on 5 June by the environment ministers of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
New British embassy in Haiti
Britain is to open an embassy in Haiti – its first since 1966.
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials said the idea was to create new trade and travel opportunities and help Haiti’s recovery from the 2010 earthquake.
A minister in Britain’s Foreign Office, Hugo Swire, is to open the new mission in mid-June.
He told the British press that the key aim was to assist Haiti in its “nation-building” as it seeks to establish a stable democracy following the devastating 2010 quake.
He added that British businesses could also capitalise on the trade and tourism being revived in Haiti.
“We want to see more British companies trading there,” Mr Swire said.
According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Britain spends £70m (US$108m) a year in Haiti through aid.
“We have a lot invested in Haiti,” the FCO minister told London’s Evening Standard.
“We want to help because there are concerns about the government being strong enough to deliver the reforms that are needed.”
Previous diplomatic representation had been through the British embassy in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.
To keep costs down, the new embassy will be housed within the Canadian embassy in the Haitian capital, with a reporting line to the British Ambassador in the Dominican Republic.
New British Children’s Laureate
Malorie Blackman has been named as the eighth British children’s laureate.
Mrs Blackman is also the first black person to hold the post.
Her books deal with modern themes including racism, family challenges, status and money. Her best-known works are Pig-Heart Boy, the Noughts & Crosses series and Hacker.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper said that she was “a forceful advocate for black and ethnic minority children’s needs and rights”.
“In making up her mind to write about black people in 1980s London, she grabbed a baton previously held by African-American pioneers including Alice Walker and Maya Angelou, who in the 1970s and 80s did so much to popularise writing about black people’s lives,” the Guardian went on to say.
She has already flagged how she plans to advocate during her time in the post, stating that the new government’s history curriculum risks turning black and minority ethnic children against education.
As British media reviews always point out, Malorie Blackman is the first writers' laureate to be mentioned in a rap song – namely, Tinhie Tempah's Written in the Stars.
Thank you to our 500 followers
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