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Bert Wilkinson

Stories by Bert

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Major weed summit in Jamaica

Authorities in Jamaica are trying their best to push the other members of the 15 nations in the Caribbean Community to seriously consider the benefits an organized medical marijuana industry could have for the region.

Governments to review money for citizenship scheme amid controversy

Governments in the smaller Eastern Caribbean subgrouping are to discuss major security lapses in a scheme through which several island nations sell national passports and citizenship to foreigners willing to pay specified amounts of cash or invest in property and other development projects.

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Trinidad president calls for formal observance of coup attempt

There were no major observances organized for last week’s 28th anniversary of the July 27, 1990, attempted coup in Trinidad that saw heavily armed but apparently misguided Islamic militants storm the island’s parliament while it was in session and attack the state’s television station and other installations in an attempt to dislodge a government that leaders say had become heartless and unrighteous.

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Trinidad government softens marijuana stance

Two weeks ago, Caribbean Community leaders meeting in Jamaica held extensive discussions on how the region should deal with the unrelenting pressure from civil society and law enforcement to amend laws that still imprison thousands of people each year for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Barbados looks to IMF for economic solace

It’s been almost two full months since the Barbados Labor Party of Prime Minister Mia Mottley destroyed all previous political records by winning all of the island’s 30 parliamentary seats and running the country without an elected opposition, but the cabinet has vowed to help lift the economy from perhaps its worst state since independence in 1966.

CARICOM unhappy with single market and economy system

Leaders, former leaders and top officials from across the Caribbean assembled in Guyana last week to review the state of play, progress and problems associated with the decades-old Caribbean Single Market and Economy system, and most said the slow pace of implementation was frustrating them terribly.

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IMF on key mission to Barbados

Less than two weeks after the Barbados Labor Party did the unthinkable and carried away all 30 contested seats in general elections, the daunting task of rebuilding an economy in ruins is about to begin, and it appears that the Caribbean island might have to sign up for an austerity program with the International Monetary Fund.

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Historic election results in Barbados

As predicted by regional pundits, electors in the idyllic Caribbean island nation of Barbados voted emphatically to elect a new government in the past week and in doing so created history on several fronts.

Jamaica encouraged by 3D oil and gas surveys

Jamaica is fancying its chances of becoming the latest Caribbean Community nation after Guyana to find commercial quantities of oil and gas in the wake of encouraging indications from the most recent round of offshore surveys.

Caribbean wants formal talks with Trump

The seemingly chaotic nature of American foreign policy and limited engagement between Caribbean officials and people of influence in Washington are among factors pushing regional leaders for a summit with President Donald Trump, sooner rather than later.

Britain backs away from deporting Caribbean nationals

In the past week, Britain was hammered from nearly every section of society for its far-right-type decision to sound deportation warnings to thousands of Caribbean nationals who had, ironically, been invited in the colonial era to settle there to help rebuild the country after World War II.

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CARICOM countries urged to help Venezuelans

Several Caribbean Community countries are beginning to sit up and take notice of the increasing numbers of Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum,

Disbelief as Trinidad rejects storm-ravaged Dominica’s request for fee waiver

As everyone knows, Dominica was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in mid-September. Most of its buildings, farmlands, electricity and telephone systems were leveled, roads rendered impassable and schools pulverized by record high winds from that storm.

Bahamas struggles to enact more humane citizenship laws

Of the 15 nations in the Caribbean Community bloc of nations, it is perhaps easier to become a citizen in any of those countries than in the Bahamas, with its maze of very restrictive, parochial immigration laws.

Another woman head of state of Caribbean nation

A female judge who has worked in Trinidad and the wider Caribbean has become the region’s latest woman head of state, adding to the growing number of females at the top echelons of governance in the bloc.

Should Jamaica remain in Caribbean single market?

The issue was not a major discussion item at the just concluded Caribbean Community leaders summit in Haiti, but a proposal by a review commission for Jamaica to leave the regional single trading market is still making the rounds and drawing spirited reactions from various quarters in the bloc.

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Police disrupt alleged terror plot in Trinidad

Trinidad’s world-class annual Carnival celebrations took place in the oil and gas-rich republic under the cloud of a major terrorist threat this week, but authorities say they are ready to crush any form of criminal misbehavior that could upset one of the country’s major foreign exchange earnings and national showcase events.

Elections in three CARICOM countries this year

General elections are scheduled to be held in three Caribbean Community countries before midyear and experts are predicting that the Freundel Stuart administration in Barbados will likely be the only one that could head to the opposition benches, largely because of tough economic conditions at home and general sloth in attending to major problems on the Eastern Caribbean island.

UN delays decision on Guyana-Venezuela border dispute

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had agreed to make a decision to send the decades-old Guyana-Venezuela border dispute to the World Court in the Netherlands for a once and for all settlement by the end of December, but more than a month after that deadline has passed, no decision has been made.

CARICOM leaders flay Trump

Calling President Donald Trump’s remarks about Haiti and African immigrants repulsive, the 15-nation Caribbean single trading bloc flayed Trump for his outburst, calling them unenlightened views.

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Guyana's largest single oil find so far

Guyana’s government on the weekend hailed the latest offshore oil and gas find as the largest to date and suggested that life in that country, which hosts the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc’s secretariat, will certainly see a major transformation after the first barrel is pumped from the seabed in the first quarter of 2020.

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Caribbean remembers storm-hit 2017

The start of the 2018 hurricane season is a mere six months away, but Caribbean leaders are hoping that the region would win a respite in the new year from the power and ravages of nature after living through the horrors and devastation of 2017.

Suriname’s mass murder trial inching to a close

The 15 victims were rounded up from their homes by heavily armed soldiers, taken to a fort just next door to today’s presidential complex and parliament and shot for allegedly hatching plans to topple the military regime.

Barbuda left in lurch despite $2 billion in aid for hurricane-hit Caribbean

For most who attended last week’s high level conference in New York to raise funds to rebuild hurricane-battered nations, the effort was a resounding success, with more than $2 billion in loans and grants pledged by Western donor nations and multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, but it has now become clear that one of the hardest hit islands will receive much less than expected to help it begin to pick up the pieces.

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Leaders, officials in New York for hurricane pledging conference

Caribbean leaders and officials were in New York this week for a major international pledging conference aimed at raising more than $3 billion to help rebuild several islands nations that were pulverized by back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes this season the 15-nation bloc said Monday.

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CARICOM gets UN support for hurricane donors conference

Caribbean leaders and high officials from countries that were pulverized by the stronger than usual 2017 hurricane season are headed to New York for a major international donor’s conference in November, where they hope to raise well in excess of $2 billion, mostly in grant aid, to help affected countries rebuild better, stronger and smarter ahead of next year’s storm season.

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Rough storm season will slow tourist arrivals

With the infrastructure of so many countries devastated by the record-setting 2017 hurricane season, tourist arrivals to Caribbean destinations are expected to plunge significantly this year.

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Dominica slowly picking itself up after Maria

Coverage of the 2017 hurricane season is slowly disappearing from the major newspapers and from the daily lineup of media houses in the Caribbean less than a month after two of the worst storms ever to have passed through the region caused extensive damage to more than a dozen countries or cities stretching from Dominica to Florida in the U.S.

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Prime ministers appeal: Help hurricane-battered Caribbean

It is becoming increasingly likely that Caribbean leaders will have to meet in emergency session in the coming weeks to address what is clearly the worst natural and humanitarian disaster in living memory after unprecedented destruction from hurricanes Irma and Maria.

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Guyana goes after stolen ancestral Afro land

Guyana’s government has established a commission of inquiry to resolve issues pertaining to land ownership in the home country of the Caribbean single trading bloc of nations, particularly those related to large tracts of land freed African slaves would have bought after emancipation but were taken away by the previous Indo-led administration for private and state projects.

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Caribbean ups reparations pressure on Europe

Caribbean governments are stepping up the pressure on Europe to pay reparations for the brutal transatlantic slave trade, adding Norway and Sweden to the list of countries they have identified as culpable players.

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Oil, gas could spark significant change for larger CARICOM states

Last week, U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil announced yet another major oil field find off Guyana, saying that it continues to be confounded and encouraged by the large amount of high-quality crude it has discovered in the past two years.

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Black party wins again in Bermuda

Sent to the opposition benches in 2012 after three consecutive terms in office plagued by infighting and allegations of arrogance.

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Europe replies to demand for reparations

At the just concluded meeting of Caribbean Community leaders in Grenada, the question of making European nations that had participated in the transatlantic slave trade compensate the region for the genocide was discussed at length, but officials are tightlipped about exactly what some European governments have indicated in their replies for demands for reparations from the Caribbean.

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Five inmates escape main Guyana prison

It has barely been 17 months since riots and fires at Guyana’s main prison killed 17 prisoners after inmates set fire to mattresses to protest poor food, overcrowding and inordinate delays in trials for those on remand, but as the week began, local authorities are again grappling with a major mutiny at the facility.

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Surinamese president facing 20 years for mass murder

A court in Suriname has recommended a prison sentence of 20 years for Suriname’s head of state, Desi Bouterse

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Caribbean leaders discuss crime, trade

Caribbean leaders head to the Eastern Caribbean spice isle of Grenada next week for their main annual summit

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Afro-owned airline expanding

While all of the major airlines in the Caribbean are losing money and carrying debts totaling more than $50 million annually, a small upstart airline, now in its fourth year of operation, is moving to expand and open new routes.

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Trinidad outlaws child marriages

Trinidad’s parliament has outlawed child marriages, with most of the 41 members of the Assembly voting to fix the legal age of matrimony at 18.

Protesters force concessions from the French

They had practically shut down the country for more than a month, protesting what they called a high level of abject neglect from France, the poor state of infrastructure and the widening disparities between the quality of life for whites and those for Blacks and others.

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Jamaican government apologizes to Rastafari community

Earlier this month, a leading Caribbean government took the highly unusual step of publicly apologizing to a section of the population for an atrocity authorities committed on the group when police killed eight of its members and injured several others during the racially sensitive colonial era.

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France approves billion-dollar package for Guiana after protests

Authorities in Paris, France, have approved a billion-dollar package for its Overseas Department of French Guiana, ending weeks of crippling strikes, street protests and general unrest as locals came out vehemently with complaints of decades of rank neglect and discrimination from France.

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Exxon finds more oil off Guyana, Jamaica ramps up seismic surveys

American oil giant ExxonMobil has reported major success with its latest probe of its Snoek well off Guyana, saying that nearly eight weeks of drilling have paid off with positive results in the latest of six wells drilled so far.

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More uncertainty for Caribbean sugar producers

In just six months, sugar producers in the Caribbean Community will be forced to confront a major new challenge linked to a decision by the European Union to end decades of fixed quotas for exports from the region.

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Trinidad moves to resume hangings

Authorities on both political sides are so fed up with the number of murders in Trinidad that they are moving to make the oil and gas-rich nation among the first of the Caribbean Community countries to resume hangings of criminals convicted of heinous crimes.

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Trinidad, latest to sign US tax bill

Trinidad has become the latest in a string of Caribbean Community nations to approve controversial legislation allowing the U.S.

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Frantic scramble by Caribbean for oil, gas

From all appearances, several countries in the 15-nation Caribbean Community are rushing to sign offshore oil exploration agreements with big name Western oil companies, hoping to find oil and switch economic dependence away from traditional sectors, such as bananas and tourism.

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Lobbying firm to work for Caribbean governments

A Trinidad-based umbrella regional security agency is planning to help governments scrutinize the backgrounds of foreigners applying to become citizens of a string of Caribbean nations that have schemes offering passports and citizenship to expatriates in exchange for investment dollars.

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New look at Antiguan passport holders

Just when the administration of President Donald Trump is applying greater scrutiny to who enters the U.S. and who doesn’t, authorities in Antigua are preparing to pull the plug on nearly 20 foreigners who bought passports and citizenship rights under its Citizenship by Investment Program in recent years.

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Tillerson will not write Guyana’s laws

While the newly minted administration of President Donald Trump fights with the justice system on immigration issues, Guyana’s government has found itself on the defensive about the role former ExxonMobil boss and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could play in the country’s fledgling oil and gas sector.

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