June, 2016

 

Argentine economy grows 0.5% in first quarter: fishing and transport compensate fall in agriculture and construction

Argentina’s economy grew 0.5% in the first quarter the government said on Wednesday, adding that it saw activity leveling out this year before accelerating in 2017. The year-on-year result, published by the newly revamped Indec statistics agency, followed analysts’ forecasts for a 1.3% contraction for the January through March period.

(Merco Press) – Latin America’s third largest economy was helped by 7.5% growth in its fishing sector and 4.2% expansion in transport. Construction and agriculture, crucial because the country is a grains-exporting powerhouse, both fell by more than 5%, Indec said.

Indec also revised its 2015 growth figure to 2.37% from the 2.1% expansion Macri’s government initially reported for last year.

“There’s a mix in the economy. There are sectors that are moving along at a good pace and other sectors that are dragging,” Argentine finance minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said on the sidelines of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc summit in Puerto Varas, Chile.

“We think that by the time we get to the end of the year all this is going to be evened out and certainly, next year will be a year of growth,” he added.

Macri’s government has eliminated currency controls and grains export taxes, lowered utility subsidies, and settled a long-standing lawsuit with bond-holders that had kept the country in default.

“We believed that during this reasonable time of six months some of the things that are going to boost growth in the second half of the year would start to get resolved,” Prat-Gay said.

The Finance minister also seems to have imposed his focus in the struggle with the Central bank, headed by Federico Sturzenegger, who was more determined to combat inflation with high interest rates. Prat-Gay is more concerned with the economy picking up even with high inflation, given the political and social consequences both in Congress and in the streets with the unions.

President Mauricio Macri has fifteen months to get the economy steaming again since in October 2017, he faces midterm elections, and it could be a chance to ensure a larger support in Congress.


(Remain) Theresa May and (Leave) Boris Johnson will bid for Cameron’s job

The ruling Conservatives started on Wednesday the race to pick Britain’s next prime minister after the shock Brexit vote and a departing David Cameron. Ex-London mayor and anti-EU campaigner Boris Johnson is tipped as a favorite to take over from Cameron on September 9 while interior minister Theresa May, who wanted to stay in the block, is another frontrunner, which could give a surprise.

(Merco Press) –  First to throw his hat into the ring for Cameron’s job was work and pensions minister Stephen Crabb, a virtual unknown to the British public, whose campaign is expected to stress his working class credentials in a party often seen as elitist.

The 43-year-old urged the Conservatives to “get past this Boris/stop Boris dichotomy”, in reference to the divisive Johnson.

The party officially opened nominations at 5:00 pm (1600 GMT). Johnson and May are expected to announce their bids Thursday morning, before nominations close at noon. The new Conservative leader, who will be chosen by a postal ballot of party members currently numbering around 150,000, is expected to be announced on September 9. He or she will also become prime minister but may call an early general election.

Bookmakers have Johnson as a slight favorite over May and The Sun newspaper reported Wednesday that he had already secured the backing of 100 of the 330 Tory MPs who will whittle down the field to two nominees.

However the ConservativeHome blog surveyed more than 1,300 members and found the slimmest of leads for May, mirroring the results of a YouGov poll published Tuesday.

Pro-EU finance minister George Osborne, long seen as a possible Cameron successor, has ruled himself out.

Critics question whether the “Leave” camp — and Johnson in particular — has any idea how to manage the unprecedented situation left by last week’s vote.


Paraguay does not accept Venezuela as Mercosur pro tempore chair; group split in half

Mercosur is again split over Venezuela because Paraguay, and apparently Brazil, have not been consulted regarding the decision to hand the pro tempore presidency of the block to Venezuela in July, as was agreed in Montevideo by Uruguay and Argentina.

(Merco Press) – Paraguayan foreign minister Eladio Loizaga said his country will not accept such presidency since “it’s not a good message for Mercosur because we were not consulted, nor was Brazilian minister Jose Serra, and I am surprised by Uruguay and Argentina’s attitude because we have excellent communication with both foreign ministries. I was further shocked that I should be informed about the apparent decision reading the media”.

Earlier this week Susana Malcorra visited his Uruguayan peer in Montevideo, Rodolfo Nin Novoa and announced that the chair transfer to Venezuela would be taking place although the Mercosur presidential summit which normally supports the ceremony, has been cancelled. Uruguay currently holds the Mercosur chair.

“Paraguay has not been informed much less consulted” underlined Loizaga who added the unilateral announcement is of great concern since it was made public when the Venezuelan government is calling for the dissolution of the elected National Assembly, “which is most serious, and a far more delicate situation” than the formal announcement made in Montevideo.

“Whatever member presides over Mercosur, he must be committed with the principles based on human rights as stipulated in the Asunción founding charter, and most specifically abiding by the democratic perception of the situation”.

“A country that presides Mercosur must have very strong internal peace. Without consensus, this process cannot happen,” he added.

Mercosur brings together Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela in a regional free trade bloc. The next summit was scheduled to take place in Montevideo next 12 July, since Uruguay currently holds the rotating chair.

Loizaga said Paraguay had reiterated the urgent request for a meeting of Mercosur foreign ministers to address the issue. “The meeting must take place, if not it will be a clear signal of a lack of interest from some countries regarding what is happening in a member country”.

Loizaga insisted that such decisions must be taken by the Common Market Council, so Paraguay will not support anything which does not abide by what is outlined in the charter. The Paraguayan diplomat did not want to describe the situation as a ‘rupture’ of Mercosur, but underlined that “we will never allow that politics prevails over the rule of the law and the charter”.

The mention of legality prevailing over politics refers to Uruguay’s ex president Jose Mujica back in 2012, when Mercosur leaders decided to suspend Paraguay, (and open the door to Venezuela), and this was supported by the argument that sometimes, “politics must prevail over law and legality”.


Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News 06/30

Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Cut ties with Britain and move towards republican status.  Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Hilary Beckles is giving that strong advice to all Caribbean states, including Barbados, in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), a process referred to as BREXIT. “We need to set up Caribbean indigenous institutions and we must tell the Queen thank you very much and goodbye” he insisted, arguing that this latest development clearly indicated the CARICOM countries need to end all forms of colonialism.

A contentious pay dispute between the luxurious Sandy Lane Hotel and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) is now before Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, reports BARBADOS TODAY.  Outgoing CEO of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Sue Springer, yesterday revealed that there had been some progress with the matter.  The west coast luxury resort last December ended its membership of the BHTA after the association agreed an eight per cent rise in salaries and wages for hotel workers over a three-year period.  The  hotel refused to pay the increase, arguing that the workers had been given a good quality of, living and a pension plan.  Up set employees complained at the time.  However, the matter, which had threatened to deteriorate into another major industrial relations battle, was referred to Stuart.

Dateline Basseterre, ST. KITTS:

The government of St. Kitts and Nevis has reiterated its position that a controversial regenerative project at the JNF Hospital is not a stem cell one.  Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, speaking to reporters at his News Conference Wednesday, strongly defended that project that has been criticized by outgoing Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin, who claimed that although the stem cell project was approved by Harris’ cabinet, he was in the dark about it.  He claimed that three rooms in a private ward at the hospital were separated to accommodate the stem cell project and doctors and local nurses were assigned to provide medical assistance.  Dr. Martin claimed all this was done without his knowledge, leading some Press reports to label the project “illegal”.

Dateline St. Georges, GRENADA:

In a national address on Tuesday, Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, announced a number of changes in Cabinet responsibilities, in accordance with what he described as a commitment given in 2013 to continually adjust ministerial positions to improve efficiency and to give members different experiences, especially those who have served for a long time in  any one area.  The changes he announced, which are effective July 1, were also influenced by several critical considerations.

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:

The government of The Bahamas and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) jointly organised a seminar on “Innovation, Transparency and Service Delivery”.  Keynoting the session on Wednesday, Prime Minister Perry Christie emphasized:” Given the harsh economic climate we cannot afford the luxury of not maintaining tight control of the management of the peoples’ funds.  More critically, we must be able to account for how that money is spent so that all can understand what it had been spent on, why the vendor was chosen and the expected benefits to be gained from that allocation.”

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley will pay an official visit to Jamaica July 17-21.  According to a release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, items on the agenda for discussion include a wide range of issues of mutual interest to both countries,  among them, the alleged ill treatment of Jamaican nationals in Trinidad and Tobago and the resulting disquiet over this allegation.

Port of Spain will be getting a spanking new $100 Million 12-storey car park which will cater for some 1,800 cars and be the biggest parking space in the Caribbean.  Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley yesterday turned the sod for the private project near Independence Square in the centre of the capital.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has launched the CARICOM Review Commission.  Chairman of the Commission is Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister.  In his address, Holness said:”we cannot preempt what the Commission will say. But it was never the intention to lay the groundwork or chart any path out of CARICOM.  This is about strengthening Jamaica’s position within the regional integration process, which is absolutely important for Jamaica’s economic growth and development for the next 50 years.”


Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headline News 6/30

BY: Ricardo Blackman, CDN Barbados Correspondent –

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Cut ties with Britain and move towards republican status.  Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Hilary Beckles is giving that strong advice to all Caribbean states, including Barbados, in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), a process referred to as BREXIT. “We need to set up Caribbean indigenous institutions and we must tell the Queen thank you very much and goodbye” he insisted, arguing that this latest development clearly indicated the CARICOM countries need to end all forms of colonialism.

A contentious pay dispute between the luxurious Sandy Lane Hotel and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) is now before Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, reports BARBADOS TODAY.  Outgoing CEO of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Sue Springer, yesterday revealed that there had been some progress with the matter.  The west coast luxury resort last December ended its membership of the BHTA after the association agreed an eight per cent rise in salaries and wages for hotel workers over a three-year period.  The  hotel refused to pay the increase, arguing that the workers had been given a good quality of, living and a pension plan.  Up set employees complained at the time.  However, the matter, which had threatened to deteriorate into another major industrial relations battle, was referred to Stuart.

Dateline Basseterre, ST. KITTS:

The government of St. Kitts and Nevis has reiterated its position that a controversial regenerative project at the JNF Hospital is not a stem cell one.  Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, speaking to reporters at his News Conference Wednesday, strongly defended that project that has been criticized by outgoing Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin, who claimed that although the stem cell project was approved by Harris’ cabinet, he was in the dark about it.  He claimed that three rooms in a private ward at the hospital were separated to accommodate the stem cell project and doctors and local nurses were assigned to provide medical assistance.  Dr. Martin claimed all this was done without his knowledge, leading some Press reports to label the project “illegal”.

Dateline St. Georges, GRENADA:

In a national address on Tuesday, Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, announced a number of changes in Cabinet responsibilities, in accordance with what he described as a commitment given in 2013 to continually adjust ministerial positions to improve efficiency and to give members different experiences, especially those who have served for a long time in  any one area.  The changes he announced, which are effective July 1, were also influenced by several critical considerations.

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS:

The government of The Bahamas and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) jointly organized a seminar on “Innovation, Transparency and Service Delivery”.  Keynoting the session on Wednesday, Prime Minister Perry Christie emphasized:” Given the harsh economic climate we cannot afford the luxury of not maintaining tight control of the management of the peoples’ funds.  More critically, we must be able to account for how that money is spent so that all can understand what it had been spent on, why the vendor was chosen and the expected benefits to be gained from that allocation.”

Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley will pay an official visit to Jamaica July 17-21.  According to a release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, items on the agenda for discussion include a wide range of issues of mutual interest to both countries,  among them, the alleged ill treatment of Jamaican nationals in Trinidad and Tobago and the resulting disquiet over this allegation.

Port of Spain will be getting a spanking new $100 Million 12-storey car park which will cater for some 1,800 cars and be the biggest parking space in the Caribbean.  Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley yesterday turned the sod for the private project near Independence Square in the centre of the capital.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has launched the CARICOM Review Commission.  Chairman of the Commission is Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister.  In his address, Holness said:”we cannot preempt what the Commission will say. But it was never the intention to lay the groundwork or chart any path out of CARICOM.  This is about strengthening Jamaica’s position within the regional integration process, which is absolutely important for Jamaica’s economic growth and development for the next 50 years.”


Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News 06/29

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Drug abuse, theft, sexual assault and robbery are not characteristics of Barbados’ Crop Over Festival.  That assurance has come from Alvin Jemmott, Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, which plays an active role in promoting the Sweetest Summer Festival in overseas markets.  It follows a June 24 security message to Americans, issued by the US Embassy in Barbados.

An Opposition Parliamentarian is calling on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to reassert Barbados’ position as a leader in the regional integration movement and help steer regional airline LIAT in the right direction.  Barbados Labour Party MP, Santia Bradshaw made the call as she expressed concern about the increasing cost of intra-regional travel and the complaints about LIAT’s service and scheduling.

Britain’s top diplomat in Barbados is urging Barbados and the Caribbean not to panic in the wake of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), assuring the region that “nothing will change overnight”.  British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Victoria Deane, issued a statement yesterday, seeking to reassure those who are worried that the Brexit vote will have damaging impact on the vital tourism industry as well as trade.  “I should be clear that nothing will change overnight.  British tourists will keep coming to the region, keep contributing to the local economy and keep enjoying these beautiful islands, “Deane emphasized.

Dateline Castries, ST. LUCIA:

St. Lucia’s new Parliament will have its first session on Tuesday, July 12, five weeks after the Electoral Commission declared the official results of the June 6th general election.

Dateline St. John’s, ANTIGUA:

Prime Minister Gaston Browne is defending his administration’s decision to take overt the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB).  Earlier this month the government announced its intention to invest EC$30 million to take majority share, and some have called the move a bailout.  “It is true that CUB may not have been the strongest of banks, but for various reasons, including strategic reasons, we have chosen to take an equity stake in the bank.  It was not difficult for us to consolidate CUB with ECAB (Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank) without buying the bank.  That was the option available to us, so even if there is a notion that CUB was not healthy and it needed a bailout, we would have had to bail it out any way” Browne said.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is being urged top reassess his administration’s position on the Caribbean Court of Justice, especially in light of the vote of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) and the reasons behind it.  According to Densil Williams, international economics professor at the University of the West Indies, the issue needs to be dealt with “urgently”.  His call comes less than a week before Holness faces fellow Caribbean leaders at a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government Summit and less than a week after the Brexit vote.  “We now need to start looking very seriously at the referendum on the CCJ.  With the Brexit movement now in an upsurge in the UK, it will have implications for border control and other things.  How are you going to deal with a court that is domiciled in the UK and you may have people who are not able to go to that court,” Williams told The Gleaner.

ENDS.


SOCIAL DECAY IN THE CARIBBEAN

A CDN special report by Ricardo Blackman in Barbados –

Many years ago a leading Caribbean columnist  presented the argument that a number of the newly independent territories in the region would end as failed states like Haiti, the first independent state in the New World. Today, countries such as Jamaica, with its very high crime rate and devalued currency, Guyana, also with its devalued currency and high crime rate and Trinidad and Tobago with as many as over 200 murders for the year so far are already showing signs of decay, while Barbados is galloping in that direction at a rapid rate with dysfunctional homes, high incidence of drug abuse, gun violence, corruption from top to bottom of the private and public sectors and drug barons carving out fiefdoms for themselves and jealously guarded by easily manipulated youthful “soldiers.”

Someone has to say enough is enough and bring a halt to this social decay that surrounds us and reclaim a civilization that was bequeathed to us by such Caribbean nationalists such as the Right Excellent, Sir Grantley Adams, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, Norman and Michael Manley of Jamaica, Forbes Burnham and Dr Cheddi Jagan of Guyana, Vere Bird of Antigua and Robert Bradshaw of St Kitts/Nevis. Today rampant materialism and the adoption of the worst aspects of the ghetto culture of the USA where the youth of the Caribbean have sought to make heroes of such rap artistes as 50 cents who coined the mantra: Get Rich or Die Trying has transformed once caring and Christian societies into ones where “tooth and claw” reign supreme. The rough necks and the hoodlums of the blocks are now seen as the heroes as the societies descend into chaos.

A case in point is the current situation in Barbados where nothing seems to work anymore. Complaints have been repeatedly heard that some litigants die in some cases without having a ruling in these cases. Recently a news item was carried in one of the local dailies where after 35 years a former registered nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital who sustained serious injuries to her back and neck is yet to receive compensation. Based on reports it seems that the Office of the Solicitor General is dragging its feet in the case and no blame can be laid at the feet of her legal counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham QC. Even the recently established Caribbean Court of Justice has had reason to  take Barbados judicial system to task fro the inordinate time it takes to have outstanding cases settled. The regional court has even gone so far as to say that in many cases the appeals brought before the courts are “frivolous and vexatious”. Recently, one of Barbados’ most outstanding legal brains recalled that when he entered his law practice there were only four judges sitting on the bench and very often they were able to return rulings in cases in a mere six to eight weeks. Today, judges take as many as three to five years to make a ruling hence the gridlock that currently frustrates litigants. In capitalist societies captains of industry depend on an impartial and efficient judicial system to adjudicate commercial matters.

Today, it seems that the only area in Caribbean life that works like clock work is organized crime and corruption generally. As shown recently in Barbados reports made by the Auditor General which unearth wrong-doing in many areas go unanswered and the criminal elements in government continue on their merry way. At a  lower level criminal activity has been “globaliised” with criminals moving around the region to wreak havoc on societies. Today in Barbados and I assume in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica there are known drug barons who flaunt their wealth even though there is no evidence that such persons hold 8 to 4 jobs. The local constabulary seems powerless to investigate these persons even though Washington has identified these persons and their areas of operation for the Royal Barbados Police Force. One such Don from a rural parish was reported to have gone into a city bar in the company of some of his “soldiers” and one of them shot an innocent bartender. The Don was brought before the Magistrates’ Court and remanded but was later granted bail by a High Court Judge and was allowed to re-enter society to continue the destroy young people’s lives with the sale of his poison, marijuana and cocaine.

Recently a report was carried from Jamaica where lawmen had reported that there was an increase in contract killings. The same situation exists in Trinidad and Tobago where some three years ago a senior attorney-at law appeared to have been killed by contract killers. There are reports that these contract killers move around the region to execute their nefarious acts. In these under-developed economies where the level of unemployment can reach as high as 24 percent in some cases people have to be “creative” to survive. It may be recalled that the don in the Godfather once said he uses his gun to survive, while the lawyer and bureaucrat uses his pen. Sounds familiar doesn’t?

Barbados seems to be one of the most hypocritical societies in the world. Everybody belongs to a church, a temple or a mosque, yet they engage in every type of corruption to rob the state of revenue. A sociologist said sometime ago that when a society loses its faith or religious practices such a civilization withers and dies. We are winessing the accuracy of this observation in Barbados today and throughout the region. The Freundel Stuart administration announced sometime ago that it was about to introduce cameras in the shed at the harbour and there was a howl of protest from the Customs officers and their bargaining agents, the national Union of Public Workers and the Barbados Workers Union who claimed that the Government was questioning the integrity of the officers. Acting Commissioner of Police, Tyrone griffith charged sometime ago that illegal guns were entering the country through our ports of entry and he was asked to bring the evidence to support his charge.

However, it is an open secret in Barbados that Customs Officers turn a blind eye to this illegal practice in exchange for sizeable sums of money. that could be as high as $ 9 000 to get circumvent the Money Laundering Act that is on the statute books of Barbados. An informed source told this writer that when an officer is assigned to witness the unstuffing of a container at the home of an importer or his warehouse, the importer usually provides a small table with a table cloth under which an envelope containing the bribe is placed. An investigation should be carried out on all Customs Officers who own two and three properties in posh residential areas off a net pay of $2 500 per month. There are reports that even the Coast Guard personnel are involved in corruption. It is said that they “shake down” drug smugglers on the high seas with the full knowledge that they may be caught on entering Barbados territorial waters. This is a sad reflection on the quality of persons we are recruiting to protect our borders. These drugs inevitably destroy our youth.

Recently, a well known businessman was caught importing and under-invoicing a consignment of chicken wings, but as yet no action has been taken against him by the relevant ministries. It has been reported that he is well with the ruling Democratic labour Party administration. It is known that a local chicken farmer has evidence to show that that the importer under-invoiced the wings by stating on an invoice that the wings are “prepared wings” which attract a lower rate of imported duty. Such criminal acts can rob the government of revenue and throw local workers on the breadline, but who cares. Such greedy robber barons do not care once their bank books look healthy. Small wonder that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital cannot pay pharmaceutical companies for drugs and provide toilet tissue and pampers for the sick. Such psychopathic  businessmen do not care that the Welfare Department has had to cut grants to the indigent in our midst. Barbadians have become a collection of greedy grasping whose actions can result in the creation of a failed state. As Thomas Hobbs the British social  theorist once said of life of his time, life for the average Barbadian and by extension the average Caribbean man is: “Solitary, poor, nasty, nasty brutish and short” as evidenced by the number of persons, young and old who have been dropping dead all across Barbados.

Racist social theorists have argued from antiquity that democratic government is the preserve of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill is reported to have said: ” Civilization means that violence, the rule of warriors and despotic chiefs, the the conditions of camps and warfare. of riot and tyranny give place to parliaments where laws are made and independent courts of justice in which over long periods those laws are maintained. That is civilization – and in its soil grow continually freedom, comfort and culture.” Our father of independence Errol Barrow and Sir Grantley Adams obviously subscribed to such views having contributed to our Caribbean civilization in a meaningful manner. Today we are saddled with leaders whose main interest is to serve two terms to secure their gratuity and pensions. They seem unaware that the boys on the block are watching and are carving out their space with the gun and the knife. Are regional leaders aware that we have reached Hobb’s state of nature where every man is against each other? Just two or three weeks ago Caribbean people witnessed the despicable spectacle of Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley, demanding his five or six months pay due to him when he was suspended from parliament. He is making this demand seemingly oblivious of the fact that Port-of-Spain is fast becoming the bloodiest city in the world with over 200 Trinidadians being murdered. As a people we must rein in these barbarians that are at the gates who are wittingly or unwittingly ensuring that all the countries of the Eastern Caribbean become failed states.

 


Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines 6/29

By: Ricardo Blackman, CDN Barbados Correspondent –

 

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

Drug abuse, theft, sexual assault and robbery are not characteristics of Barbados’ Crop Over Festival.  That assurance has come from Alvin Jemmott, Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, which plays an active role in promoting the Sweetest Summer Festival in overseas markets.  It follows a June 24 security message to Americans, issued by the US Embassy in Barbados.

An Opposition Parliamentarian is calling on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to reassert Barbados’ position as a leader in the regional integration movement and help steer regional airline LIAT in the right direction.  Barbados Labour Party MP, Santia Bradshaw made the call as she expressed concern about the increasing cost of intra-regional travel and the complaints about LIAT’s service and scheduling.

Britain’s top diplomat in Barbados is urging Barbados and the Caribbean not to panic in the wake of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), assuring the region that “nothing will change overnight”.  British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Victoria Deane, issued a statement yesterday, seeking to reassure those who are worried that the Brexit vote will have damaging impact on the vital tourism industry as well as trade.  “I should be clear that nothing will change overnight.  British tourists will keep coming to the region, keep contributing to the local economy and keep enjoying these beautiful islands, “Deane emphasized.

 

Dateline Castries, ST. LUCIA:

St. Lucia’s new Parliament will have its first session on Tuesday, July 12, five weeks after the Electoral Commission declared the official results of the June 6th general election.

Dateline St. John’s, ANTIGUA:

Prime Minister Gaston Browne is defending his administration’s decision to take overt the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB).  Earlier this month the government announced its intention to invest EC$30 million to take majority share, and some have called the move a bailout.  “It is true that CUB may not have been the strongest of banks, but for various reasons, including strategic reasons, we have chosen to take an equity stake in the bank.  It was not difficult for us to consolidate CUB with ECAB (Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank) without buying the bank.  That was the option available to us, so even if there is a notion that CUB was not healthy and it needed a bailout, we would have had to bail it out any way” Browne said.

Dateline Kingston, JAMAICA:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is being urged top reassess his administration’s position on the Caribbean Court of Justice, especially in light of the vote of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) and the reasons behind it.  According to Densil Williams, international economics professor at the University of the West Indies, the issue needs to be dealt with “urgently”.  His call comes less than a week before Holness faces fellow Caribbean leaders at a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government Summit and less than a week after the Brexit vote.  “We now need to start looking very seriously at the referendum on the CCJ.  With the Brexit movement now in an upsurge in the UK, it will have implications for border control and other things.  How are you going to deal with a court that is domiciled in the UK and you may have people who are not able to go to that court,” Williams told The Gleaner.


Islamic State prime suspect after suicide bombers kill 41 at Istanbul airport

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish investigators pored over video footage and witness statements on Wednesday after three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers opened fire and blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main airport, killing 41 people and wounding 239.

The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport was the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings this year in Turkey, part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State and struggling to contain spillover from neighboring Syria’s war.

President Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against terrorism, which he said had “no regard for faith or values”.

Five Saudis and two Iraqis were among the dead, a Turkish official said. Citizens from China, Jordan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Iran and Ukraine were also among the 13 foreigners killed.

One attacker opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic rifle, sending passengers diving for cover and trying to flee, before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, witnesses and officials said.

Video footage showed one of the attackers inside the terminal building being shot, apparently by a police officer, before falling to the ground as people scattered. The attacker then blew himself up around 20 seconds later.

“It’s a jigsaw puzzle … The authorities are going through CCTV footage, witness statements,” a Turkish official said.

The Dogan news agency said autopsies on the three bombers, whose torsos were ripped apart, had been completed and that they may have been foreign nationals, without citing its sources.

Broken ceiling panels littered the kerb outside the arrivals section of the international terminal. Plates of glass had shattered, exposing the inside of the building, and electric cables dangled from the ceiling. Cleanup crews swept up debris and armed police patrolled as flights resumed.

“This attack, targeting innocent people is a vile, planned terrorist act,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters at the scene in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“There is initial evidence that each of the three suicide bombers blew themselves up after opening fire,” he said. The attackers had come to the airport by taxi and preliminary findings pointed to Islamic State responsibility.

Two U.S. counterterrorism officials familiar with the early stages of investigations said Islamic State was at the top of the list of suspects even though there was no evidence yet.

No group had claimed responsibility more than 12 hours after the attack, which began around 9:50 p.m. (1850 GMT) on Tuesday.

VICTIMS OF MANY NATIONALITIES

Istanbul’s position bridging Europe and Asia has made Ataturk airport, Turkey’s largest, a major transit hub for passengers across the world. The Istanbul governor’s office said 109 of the 239 people hospitalized had since been discharged.

“There were little babies crying, people shouting, broken glass and blood all over the floor. It was very crowded, there was chaos. It was traumatic,” said Diana Eltner, 29, a Swiss psychologist who was traveling from Zurich to Vietnam but had been diverted to Istanbul after she missed a connection.

Delayed travelers were sleeping on floors at the airport, a Reuters witness said, as some passengers and airport staff cried and hugged each other. Police in kevlar vests with automatic weapons prowled the kerbside as a handful of travelers and Turkish Airlines crew trickled in.

The national carrier said it had canceled 340 flights although its departures resumed after 8:00 am (0500 GMT).

Paul Roos, 77, a South African tourist on his way home, said he saw one of the attackers “randomly shooting” in the departures hall from about 50 meters (55 yards) away.

“He was wearing all black. His face was not masked … We ducked behind a counter but I stood up and watched him. Two explosions went off shortly after one another. By that time he had stopped shooting,” Roos told Reuters.

“He turned around and started coming towards us. He was holding his gun inside his jacket. He looked around anxiously to see if anyone was going to stop him and then went down the escalator … We heard some more gunfire and then another explosion, and then it was over.”

AIM TO MAXIMIZE FEAR

The attack bore similarities to a suicide bombing by Islamic State militants at Brussels airport in March that killed 16 people. A coordinated attack also targeted a rush-hour metro train, killing a further 16 people in the Belgian capital.

Islamic State militants also claimed gun and bomb attacks that killed 129 people in Paris last November

“In Istanbul they used a combination of the methods employed in Paris and Brussels. They planned a murder that would maximize fear and loss of life,” said Suleyman Ozeren, a terrorism expert at the Ankara-based Global Policy and Strategy Institute.

Turkey needs to work harder on “preventative intelligence” to stop militants being radicalized in the first place, he said.

The two U.S. officials said the Istanbul bombing was more typical of Islamic State than of Kurdish militant groups which have also carried out recent attacks in Turkey, but usually strike at official government targets.

Yildirim said it was significant that the attack took place when Turkey was having successes in fighting terrorist groups and mending ties with some of its international partners.

Turkey announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel on Monday after a six-year rupture and has been trying to restore relations with Russia, a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

One of the U.S. officials said there had been a “marked increase” in encrypted Islamic State propaganda and communications on the dark web, which some American officials interpret as an effort to direct or inspire more attacks outside its home turf to offset its recent losses on the ground.

Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the probe, which they said is being led by Turkish officials with what they called intelligence support from the United States and other NATO allies.

(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Can Sezer, Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul, Ercan Gurses in Ankara, John Walcott in Washington, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Sami Aboudi in Dubai, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Philippa Fletcher, Janet McBride)


Pacific Alliance, under Chilean presidency will speed closer links with Mercosur

The Pacific Alliance under the helm of Chile, beginning next July first will reach out for closer links with Mercosur, particularly since Argentina’s decision to join the block as an observer. “The Argentine decision to join the Pacific Alliance as an observer fully harmonizes with Chile’s strategy of making both blocks converge”, according to Andres Rebolledo, head of Chile’s Directorate of International Economic Relations.

(Merco Press) – Chile is scheduled to take the pro tempore presidency of the Alliance (Peru, Colombia Mexico and Chile) next July, in a presidential summit which is to take place in Frutillar, south of the country.

Previous to the summit to which has been especially invited by Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, her Argentine peer Mauricio Macri, there will be a business forum to promote trade and investment.

“The Pacific alliance is a priority integration project of Chile’s trade policy. With only five years in construction, the Alliance has obtained many successes, and has a great potential”, said Rebolledo.

He added that President Bachelet will concentrate in advancing in the areas of goods, services, people and capital movements, and will try to make the most of the Trade Protocol which became effective last May first, which means basically lower tariffs.

Likewise Bachelet will continue to push for the Pacific alliance to keep expanding in the Asia/Pacific basin markets, as well as with the 49 observer countries and the rest of Latin America, thus the significance of approaching Mercosur.

Paraguay and Uruguay, Mercosur members are already observers of the Pacific Alliance, and now Argentina has joined.

Macri will be attending the summit in Frutillar together with the president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, a country which most probably, very soon with become the fifth member of the alliance.