Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-Up

Machel Montano
  • Misick extradition papers lodged
  • Jamaican deportees' welcome home video
  • The Caribbean in World Press Freedom rankings
  • Machel Montano - loses sponsor, still has loyal fans


CI logo Misick extradition
A formal request for the extradition of former Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Premier Michael Misick was lodged with the Brazilian government on 29 January.
A brief message from the TCI’s governor’s office used social media to announce the lodging of the application.
“The Turks and Caicos Islands’ Chief Magistrate and the acting Attorney General formally certified the papers last week and they were taken to Brazil on Sunday,” the statement on the Governor’s Office Facebook site said.
Mr Misick had spent a year living in Rio de Janeiro when he was arrested on 7 December, on his way to meet lawyers in Sao Paulo in a quest to lodge a second bid to remain in Brazil.
The international warrant had been taken out by the British authorities, who want Mr Misick to return home to answer allegations relating to high-level corruption in the TCI.
Mr Misick has always insisted on his innocence, claiming that the corruption investigation was politically motivated.
The TCI had been put under direct British rule following the investigation and only returned to autonomous rule following elections on 9 November.
CI logo Welcome home message to Jamaican deportees
Britain’s Foreign Office has been using an upbeat video to promote its role in a programme for people deported to Jamaica.
The video, called Coming Home to Jamaica, outlines the programme available for deportees sent home from the UK to help them register and find training, work and a home in Jamaica.
The Rehabilitation and Reintegration programme was the product of a 2008 agreement between the governments of Jamaica and the UK to create a full project aimed at reducing re-offending.   
The idea is to rehabilitate offenders and those who have overstayed their visas and have been deported to Jamaica, as well as to help out local offenders.
To date, the programme has received $4.1m (£2.6m) for phase one and $2.6m (£1.7m) is being spent on phase two. The programme runs until April 2014.
The 10-minute video, which is being promoted on the Foreign Office’s social media platforms, interviews some of the programme’s officials and facilitators, as well as some of its beneficiaries, who talk about turning their lives around since being deported to Jamaica.
“The stigma is still going to be there,” one of the interviewees says. “Basically, you can just overcome it.”
The man, who now has a courier business, a home and a family in Jamaica, adds that he has made a difference for himself, his family and the country.
Figures from Jamaica indicate that more than a third (11,000) of Jamaica’s total 34,000 deportees between 2000 and 2010 were sent from the UK.
Figures peaked in 2004 and have shown a steady decline in recent years, falling to fewer than 500 in 2010. 
CI logo Press freedom rankings
The Jamaican media were quick to report on the country moving to the top of hemispheric rankings in the 2013 Press Freedom Index, published this week by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Jamaica moved to 13th place globally, replacing Canada in the Americas rankings. Canada fell to 20th position.
“Political tension”, the continued “state monopoly of radio broadcasting” and pressure from political authorities were cited as reasons for Guyana’s position at 69.
Haiti was placed in 49th position. The RSF said: “The situation is still largely unchanged, although some journalists have accused President Michel Martelly of hostility towards them.”
Trinidad and Tobago was placed 44th because, the RSF said, it “still has not stopped its illegal monitoring of journalists’ phone calls and attempts to identify their sources”.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) also came in for criticism and moved down eight places to rank 34th.
The RSF cited “often direct pressure from the political authorities on news media and the failure to move ahead with the decriminalisation of defamation”.
Cuba received the America’s lowest ranking (171st) as the hemisphere’s “only country to tolerate no independent media (or with few exceptions)”.
“The past year has seen a renewed crackdown on dissent and the island now has two journalists in prison, one of them a state media employee.”
CI logo Machel – loses one sponsor, still has his fans
The decision by one of Trinidad’s main communications companies, TSTT, to terminate its sponsorship of soca star Machel Montano after his conviction for assault has been featuring in the Twitterverse this week.
The Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) announced the end of its contract with Machel, as well as the end of his role in the events that it’s sponsoring for the remaining two weeks of Trinidad Carnival.
TSTT management had stood by Montano, the face of its 4G launch in 2012 and an endorser of the company’s bmobile brand for over seven years, after his initial conviction in December of last year.
Machel was found guilty on 10 December of five criminal charges of assault and using obscene language during an incident outside a Port of Spain nightclub five years ago.
His sentencing, scheduled for 17 January, has been postponed to 25 February.
The company had, however, warned in December after the conviction that “it did not condone resolving conflicts through the use of force" .
The company’s severing of ties this week led to witty headlines in the Trinidad media, including the Trinidad Express’s “TSTT hangs up on Machel”.
Newsday reported that TSTT’s board of directors had actually issued an instruction for sponsorship ties to be cut in December after the conviction - and that the January decision by management followed a second instruction from the board.
To date, Machel still has the sponsorship of Trinidad’s state-owned airline, Caribbean Airlines (CAL).
If Twitter is anything to go by, the five-time road march king and three-time soca monarch winner still has the support of fans.
“You can’t stop this man, you can only hope to contain him,” said one post.
“What is #carnival without #machel” said another.
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