Caribbean and Diaspora News in Brief

Kirani James at the Olympics
Taiwan President visits
Britain issues Haiti advice
The IMF on Trinidad
Fidel at 87
Diaspora Watch - APD and Stop-and-search
Kirani James - Quote of the Week
CI logo Taiwan’s turn – First China flexed its diplomatic muscles, now it’s Taiwan’s turn to visit its friends in the Caribbean.
President Ma Ying-jeou kicked off his four-nation visit to the Caribbean in Haiti on 13 August.
Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are among 23 countries worldwide that formally recognise Taiwan as a sovereign country. China, however, regards Taiwan as part of its territory.
Some Caribbean nations have alternated between support for China’s perspective and Taiwanese support and funding, based on diplomatic recognition of Taiwan at the United Nations.
Taiwan’s leader joined Haitian President Michel Martelly for the laying of the ceremonial stone for the new $16m courthouse in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
Taiwan is funding the building, which will replace the one destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. The construction firm is Taiwan-based OECC.
President Ma said in Taipei before leaving that the trip would help Taiwan have a “better understanding of our co-operative projects with allied nations”.
“We have enjoyed stable relations with our 23 allies and our friendships with the US, Japan and other non-allied countries in Asia and Europe are moving ahead,” he said.
CI logo Haiti homophobic attack – An attack on a gay engagement party in Haiti has caused Britain to update its travel advice for the country.
A gay British aid worker, his Haitian partner and their party came under attack over the weekend of 10 August.
An angry mob descended on the building where the party was being held. Cars were set on fire and Molotov cocktails were thrown.
Police staged a last-minute intervention, which many guests reported saved their lives. 
Media reports indicate that the majority of lesbian and gay Haitians keep a very low profile for fear of being attacked or losing their jobs.
As a result, Britain has revised its travel advice on Haiti, stating that “homosexuality is legal, but the attitude of many Haitians to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is hostile”, the British foreign travel advice site said.
Police say two people have been held in connection with the attack.
At the same time, however, the US issued a new travel advisory, with softer language than its December 2012 warnings, but still advising American visitors to exercise caution. 
CI logo Fidel Castro marked his 87th birthday on 13 August, explaining in detail his stepping down from the Cuban presidency and sharing some previously unknown history abut Soviet relations.
The former Cuban leader said that he had been diagnosed with an intestinal ailment, which left him not expecting to live much longer.
He gave up the Cuban presidency temporarily in 2006 and permanently in 2008, allowing his younger brother Raul to become leader.
"I was far from imagining that my life would be prolonged seven more years," he said in the official newspaper Granma on 14 August.
His three-page article also reflected on the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs invasion by Miami-based Cuban exiles and other crisis times when the world believed Cuban had the full backing of the Soviet Union.
He said that Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov had told him in the early 1980s that Russian would not have stepped in if Cuba had been invaded at that time.
President Andropov had promised arms would be provided but that “if we were attacked by the United States, we should fight alone”.
CI logo IMF: Trinidad – modest growth: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is projecting what it calls a “modest recovery” for Trinidad and Tobago’s economy this year.
This, says the IMF, follows “disappointing growth in 2012”.
The Fund had already attributed Trinidad and Tobago’s lacklustre 2012 performance to what it called supply constraints, caused by maintenance operations in the key energy sector and an industrial dispute in the non-energy sector.
“Headline inflation rose to 9.3% in 2012, but core inflation, which excludes food prices, remained moderate at 3.13% and has since fallen further to 2.2% in March 2013,” the IMF said in an assessment on 12 August.
It said that unemployment in the twin-island republic was as low as 5%, but that underemployment remained significant.
The IMF continued to recommend diversification from the country’s energy sector reliance.
The Fund’s executive directors said they “welcomed signs of economic recovery, fuelled by growth of the non-energy sector”.
CI logo Carifesta celebrates culture and development: The regional celebration of culture, Carifesta, is running this year under the theme of promoting the role of culture to develop the Caribbean’s economic, social and human development.
The festival’s web pages for 2013 showcase host country’s Suriname’s cultural diversity, as well as including videos, photo galleries and the soca-styled theme song.
This year, there is also an emphasis on sustainability.
Organisers say they hope to encourage the Caribbean to produce sustainable cultural goods.
For the range of events, including music, storytelling, theatre, dance and craftwork, check out the main website.

Diaspora watch

CI logo A federal judge in New York has issued a ruling that will have New York police officers revising their stop-and-search techniques in the Big Apple.
Justice Shira Scheindlin ruled that the misuse of powers violated the 14th Amendment, which provides for protection under the law, regardless of race or ethnicity.  
She also ruled that the New York Police Department (NYPD) must change its use of such powers and appointed a senior lawyer to monitor police progress.
In addition, officers on duty in some districts will be required to wear body cameras, which will record every encounter they have.
Information issued by the judge indicated that 80% of people stopped by NYPD officers were either black or Hispanic and that 90% of those stopped were not charged with a crime.
Judge Scheindlin used the words “indirect racial profiling” in her ruling.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that his office would challenge the ruling.
CI logo Are Brits over the APD deterrent? Is the British traveller getting over the cost hurdle of travel to the Caribbean caused by the Airport Passenger Departure (APD) Tax?
Since its implementation in 2007 and subsequent increases, the APD has been blamed for a fall in the number of people flying from the UK to the Caribbean. 
The APD lobby by Caribbean diplomats and the travel industry suggests that the tax adds between $123 and $258 to flight costs, depending on the type of seat booked. 
According to Travel Weekly, fly-cruise company Fred Olsen has been “inundated” with requests to return to the Caribbean after withdrawing the fly-cruise service, blaming the withdrawal partly on the high cost of the APD.
Reducing the reinstated service to one 14-night sailing, Fred Olsen plans to keep costs down when it returns in January 2015. The cruise will travel from Barbados to Grenada, Aruba, Cuba, the Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts, Antigua and Barbuda and back to Barbados.
“We have received overwhelming feedback from previous guests during the last 18 months that they wanted to return to the Caribbean,” said Nathan Philpot, Fred Olsen’s marketing director.
“If this first one performs well, it will be fantastic to add more,” he added.

CI logo Quote of the week

“Just go over and see what happened, you know, both physically and mentally…learn from it and move on from it and get ready for the next race.” Defending 400m World and Olympic champ, Kirani James of Grenada, speaking with reporters after finishing seventh in Moscow. 
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