Canadian visa crackdown
New British overseas minister
Cuba embargo for another year
On 10 September, the White House extended the trade embargo against Cuba for a further year.
In a presidential memorandum entitled “Subject: Continuation of the Exercise of Certain Authorities Under the Trade With The Enemy Act”, Barack Obama extended the embargo to 14 September 2013.
The embargo is extended year-by-year, alongside President Obama’s policy towards Cuba intended to “empower Cubans” towards change.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proposes a 10-step programme
on Cuba which includes the continuation of the trade embargo, as well as efforts to influence Western hemisphere public opinion away from Cuba.
Criminal returnees lead to Canadian visa crackdown
Citizens of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are to join the list of people who now need a visa to enter Canada, mainly because of criminals returning to Canada under different identities.
In a statement issued on 11 September
, Canada’s Citizen and Immigration Department said that the visa requirement changes applied to St Lucia, St Vincent, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland.
Canada’s Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney allowed free-of-charge visas for people from these countries in transit or visiting Canada at the moment to keep them on the right side of the law.
"We continue to welcome genuine visitors to Canada," Mr Kenney said in the statement.
"These changes are necessary to protect the integrity of Canada's fair and generous immigration system by helping us to reduce an unacceptably high number of immigration violations."
The statement said that the key reason why St Lucia and St Vincent had been included on the visa requirement list had been “unreliable travel documents”.
It added that “in particular, criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports. In some instances, people who were removed from Canada as security risks later returned using different passports.”
The Canadian statement went on: “There has also been an unacceptably high number of asylum claims from St Lucia and St Vincent, with about 1.5% and 3% [respectively] of the population of these countries making asylum claims in Canada over the past five years.”
Different reasons were given for the restrictions on Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland – including human trafficking of minors, fraudulent documents and 71% of Namibian travellers to Canada making asylum claims within the last year.
The restrictions now mean that St Lucians and Vincentians wanting to visit Canada have to apply for visas by mail or in person at their nearest Canadian embassy in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
New OTs Minister
New British Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds faced questions on the Turks and Caicos in the British parliament almost immediately after taking office following Prime Minister David Cameron's reshuffle.
Mr Simmonds, a chartered surveyor before going into politics, replaces Henry Bellingham as the minister responsible for dealing with business in Britain’s overseas territories.
In the Caribbean, this includes the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat.
Officially known as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the British Foreign Office, Mr Simmonds has found that November elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands became one of the first items on his in-tray.
His written answers appeared on 6 September in response to questions about the Turks and Caicos tabled in the House of Commons.
Asked about the proposed introduction of value added tax (VAT) in the Turks and Caicos, the new minister said: "The British government has consistently made it clear that the introduction of VAT is a decision for the TCI government.
“We support their decision to introduce VAT on the basis of an assessment that it will provide a more stable, fairer and broader based system of revenue. The VAT Bill was signed into law by the Acting Governor on 18 July 2012.”
In response to other questions about 9 November elections, Mr Simmonds said that the British government would provide financial support for invitations by the Turks and Caicos Islands government for election observers under the aegis to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and including British and Caribbean monitors.
Mr Simmons' tenure follows the turbulent UK-Turks and Caicos relationship
during which an official inquiry into corruption led to the suspension of self-rule in 2009 and charges laid against 13 islanders, including former Chief Minister Michael Misik, who still faces an international arrest warrant.
Following the official inquiry, media scrutiny
also turned on relations between Britain’s then opposition and former Turks and Caicos officials.
Asked about strengthening relations, the new OTs minister said: “We want the Territories to be vibrant and flourishing communities, proudly retaining aspects of their British identity and generating wider opportunities for their people.
"Our strategy for the Territories is based on three practical policy goals: to strengthen the engagement and interaction between the UK and the Territories; to work with Territories to strengthen good governance arrangements, public financial management and economic planning where this is necessary; and to improve the quality and range of support available to the Territories.”
Mr Simmonds’ statement also committed to upgrading the annual meeting with overseas territorial leaders.
Caribbean Intelligence in the news
An article analysing how Trinidad and Tobago’s various ethnic groups relate to each other has put the spotlight on the current state of play in the twin-island republic.
The analysis, by veteran journalist Tony Fraser
, led to an interview with Jamaican media house RJR, as well as a series of tweets recommending the article from Jamaica and the United States.
This followed CI’s Olympic coverage, which led to CI Editor Debbie Ransome appearing on BBC World News TV during the 100m at London 2012 and CI’s Editorial Advisory Board member, Jamaican journalist Clare Forrester
also appearing on BBC World News TV, as well as on UK commercial sports radio station Talk Sport UK.
It’s been a great summer and thanks for all the complementary tweets.