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Bert Wilkinson

Stories by Bert

Pay us money for slavery, region tells UK PM

The head of a group appointed by Caribbean leaders to force Britain and other European countries to compensate the region for the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade wants British Prime Minister David Cameron to own up to the genocide against Caribbean people and be prepared to act accordingly.

Sugar struggles in Guyana

Just recently, authorities in Guyana set up a commission of inquiry to find out what exactly has gone wrong with their decaying sugar industry.

Trinidad heats up, Rowley fears assassination

In just under a month from now, voters in oil- and gas-rich Trinidad and Tobago will decide whether to dump the administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar amid widespread allegations of corruption and graft and an inability to deal with runaway violent crime, among other simmering societal ills.

Reparations battle picks up steam

Usually at this time of the year, international legislators and high flyers at umbrella organizations such as the European Union, its Parliament and even the Caribbean Community Secretariat take an extended break from the daily grind of trade negotiations and global conferences to refocus on the main issues in the fall.

Caricom can approach WTO in rum dispute

A simmering row between rum producers in the Caribbean and the U.S. government over generous tax subsidies it gives to American companies operating in the region has flared again.

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Trinidad picks up coup leader

Before daybreak Monday, police swooped down on the Trinidad headquarters of a Black Muslim sect that staged a bloody coup attempt on the island 25 years ago.

Guyana-Venezuela situation worsens

Venezuelan authorities last week turned away and generally hassled a Guyanese fuel boat that had docked there for oil supplies.

Dominican Republic neighbors condemn atrocities against Haitians

A Caribbean Community leaders summit that ended in Barbados on the weekend warned of an impending humanitarian crisis in the region if the Dominican Republic continues its heartless deportation of people of Haitian descent, including those born in the island nation neighboring Haiti.

Key issues on Caricom agenda include reparations, Venezuela, Guyana

Three key issues will attract the attention of Caribbean trade bloc leaders when they meet for three days at one of their two most important annual summits in Barbados starting Thursday.

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Trinidad votes in September

Citizens of oil- and gas-rich Trinidad and Tobago go to the polls in early September, and the governing People’s Partnership administration faces an uphill task if it doesn’t want to become the latest government in the Caribbean to be voted out by dissatisfied electors.

Canada goes to WTO for Caricom

Because neither Canada nor the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc can agree on a new deal governing trade between the two, Canada has said it now has no choice but to ask the Geneva-based World Trade Organization to intervene in the dispute.

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Who is next to go in the Caribbean?

May 25, voters in the Dutch-speaking Caribbean trade bloc nation of Suriname will go to the polls to elect a new government.

Second Caribbean government taken out by voters

In all this year, six general elections are to be held in the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc, and if internal and other polls hold true, four of these are expected to yield new governments or result in wafer-thin majorities.

Largest shareholder plotting to collapse regional island hopper

Barbados and Antigua, two of the largest shareholders of the regional commuter air service that is an aviation lifeline to many islands in the Caribbean Community, are at the center of a heated row with Antigua.

Jamaican teen stopped from joining Islamic State

Of all the leaders in the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc, Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad would appear to have an obsession with terrorist organizations in the Middle East and their impact on the rest of the world, vulnerable youth in particular.

Ex-officers line up behind Guyana elections coalition

When the Caribbean trade bloc headquarter nation of Guyana votes for a new government May 11, the elections will most likely be a straight race between a multiracial opposition coalition group and the Indo-dominated governing People’s Progressive Party...

Controversial ‘dollars for passport’ scheme under review

The six-week-old government in the Eastern Caribbean twin island federation of St. Kitts and Nevis says it is planning a complete overhaul of its economic citizenship program through which foreigners can buy a local passport and citizenship through cash and investment projects because the system was badly abused by the previous administration.

Barbados to dump the queen

Tiny Barbados is preparing to dump Britain’s Queen Elizabeth after centuries of imperial colonial rule. The nation has decided to replace her with a local head of state and, like Guyana, Trinidad and a few other Caribbean trade bloc states, soon proclaim itself a republic.

US coming down on Caricom for copyright

The U.S. is beginning to crackdown on Caribbean trade bloc countries that have used American television and other programs without respecting copyright issues for decades.

No backing down on reparations demands

Caribbean governments restated their intention to pursue Britain and other European nations that participated in the brutal transatlantic slave trade for reparations. Likewise, they want those nations to know that they should negotiate with the region in good faith.

Caribbean banks in deep trouble with US counterparts

Caribbean trade bloc governments have agreed to establish a special committee of finance ministers to probe reasons why American and European commercial banks are reluctant to conduct business with regional counterparts, saying they fear many will soon face closure if the situation is not corrected.

Marijuana, reparations on summit agenda

Caricom leaders are scheduled to meet in the Bahamas to discuss a number of key issues, including the push to make European nations pay for slavery and to establish a commission on marijuana decriminalization, the bloc said.

Official probe into the Dudus saga begins in Jamaica

An official investigation has begun into the bloody operation that dislodged Jamaica’s most wanted man from a fortified city stronghold. The politician at the helm of government at the time claims he was forced to sever all ties with the drug dealer because he had not only become a political liability but also because he had been hiding fugitives in the community.

Jamaica gets liberal with weed

As Caribbean governments prepare to review region-wide legislation allowing for medical marijuana use and a relaxation of laws for possession of infinitesimal amounts, the Obama administration wants the island to know that it is not comfortable with the move towards decriminalization.

Five general elections in Caricom this year

At least five general elections are scheduled to be held in the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc this year, including three in the politically volatile Southern Caribbean region, and if opinion polls are anything to go by, at least three elections could result in new governments.

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Trinidad reeling under lower oil prices

Trinidad, the bloc’s largest producer of oil and recently a major supplier of gas for Eastern Seaboard states in the U.S., is being forced to significantly cut back on spending as international prices plunge, leaving the oil- and gas-dependent nation in the financial lurch.

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Britain and Commonwealth may suspend Guyana for breaching rules

The 53-nation Commonwealth grouping of former British colonies this week threatened to sanction Guyana’s government for its suspension of the country’s parliament and for its refusal to hold local government elections.

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Bahamas PM new head of CARICOM

The Bahamas has taken over the rotating chairmanship of the 15-nation Caribbean Community from Antigua and Barbuda and will be the venue for next month’s mid-year regional leaders summit, the bloc said this week

Would an open Cuba affect Caribbean tourism?

By the time Obama had finished outlining plans to normalize relations after 18 months of astonishingly secret talks, academics were releasing studies that had already predicted not so good news for countries that are members of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization.

‘Who’s in, who’s out’ under President Obama’s executive action plan

In the early hours of Monday morning, Dec. 1, I appeared on the “Tony Cobb Radio Show” on 93.5 FM to chat about the details of the recent immigration changes following the executive action of President Barack Obama Nov. 20.

Caricom makes progress in mother-to-child transmission

Thirteen Caribbean nations are close to eliminating HIV transmission from mothers to children and could likely win international certification in a year’s time, officials said this week.

Unusual rains batter south Caribbean

Heavier than usual annual year-end rains have battered the south Caribbean in the past week, collapsing roads and homes, causing extensive flooding and forcing the closure of schools and state and private sector agencies.

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Holder’s last session with Caricom

Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to meet with his colleagues from the Caribbean trade bloc in idyllic Barbados Wednesday of this week to discuss security and other issues, officials said.

Guyana parliament dissolved

This week, Guyana’s Indo-led governing People’s Progressive Party used an unusual clause in the national constitution to duck an opposition no-confidence motion that would have forced it to resign and call general elections in 90 days.

Summit called to address Ebola scare

Caribbean Community leaders were scheduled to fly to Port of Spain, Trinidad, this week for an emergency summit primarily organized to review the state of readiness in the event of an Ebola infection or outbreak in the tourism-dependent region.

Caricom and U.S. to meet on trade

An umbrella body overseeing trade and aid relations between the U.S. and the Caribbean will convene in the Bahamas this week for its annual review meeting, which will include updates on a simmering international gaming row between the U.S. and Antigua, the Guyana-based trade bloc said.

Farrakhan pushes reparations

Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan flew to Jamaica last week to celebrate the 19th anniversary of his Million Man March on the U.S. Capitol in 1995.

The Ebola threat and the Caribbean

Some Caribbean community governments are preparing for the possibility of an outbreak of the Ebola virus, knowing full well that a single confirmed case in the region could significantly affect its lifeline tourism industry.

Caribbean Muslims and ISIS

Islamic leadership groups in Trinidad are to meet this week to discuss and assess reports that dozens of local Muslim activists have left the prosperous twin-island republic with Tobago for the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State, with some reportedly earning up to $1,000 a day for their services.

Race for top post in ACP brings internal row

Caribbean governments have nominated three prominent professionals to lead a 79-nation, Brussels-based group of former European colonies, but some member states are very upset that those shortlisted come from countries that they say have traditionally dominated the top positions of umbrella regional and international organizations.

Jamaica Calculates Its Reparations Money

“It also does not include the trauma and pain of the ‘Middle Passage’ journey, punishment, death through execution and the sexploitation which were daily features of the plantation society, both during and after slavery,” said the commission boss, Verene Shepherd. “And it excludes the cost of repatriation. There is no doubt that the punishment meted out to the enslaved people was severe, and this level of suffering must be accounted for in any demand for repair and restorative justice.”

Aussie firm vows not to bribe officials

When general elections are held in the Caribbean trade bloc headquarter nation of Guyana later this year or early in the next, the issue of runaway corruption is likely to take center stage.

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China’s Caribbean plan

If there were any doubts that China has its eyes on Latin America and the Caribbean, just look at the latest statements emanating from Beijing about its plans to assist the Caribbean trade bloc.

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Trinidad general elections heat up

Two key, hotbed political issues are dominating the news in Trinidad this week

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Opponents rally against bill designed to keep Hindu government in power

The Trinidad Senate is set to debate a controversial bill this week that the Lower House has already passed, which some say is designed to ensure that the Indo-led People’s Partnership maintains power at general elections due by the last quarter of next year.

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Opposition motion may force out government

Last week, the two opposition parties in Guyana’s Parliament announced plans to use their one-seat majority to vote for a no-confidence motion when Parliament returns from its annual break in October, to force the Indo-led People’s Progressive Party from office, citing runaway corruption and the alleged economic rape of the country as key reasons.

Tumultuous week for Trinidad

Last week, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar fired controversial Sports Minister Anil Roberts from her cabinet, blaming him for seriously mismanaging a government-funded program that was designed to create employment for youths and give others who have dropped out of school and the workplace system a second chance in life.

Carib takes reparations case to UK Parliament

Caribbean trade bloc countries fighting to make Britain and other European countries pay for the transatlantic slave trade have formally taken their case to the British Parliament, with their leading reparations advocate urging legislators to correct wrongs that were enacted into law by that very House of Commons, because millions in the region are still suffering from the effects of slavery.

Aruba Reaches Out but has Problems

Just last weekend, the Aruban prime minister, Mike Eman, other cabinet ministers and high officials ended a week-long hunger strike to protest what authorities said were efforts by the Netherlands, the island’s so-called mother country, to sabotage the 2014-15 budget.

Jamaica’s top cop quits

In the past month, Owen Ellington, Jamaica’s top cop, abruptly handed in his letter of retirement to authorities, years before his due date, fueling island-wide speculation that his unexpected departure was the result of pressure from Western nations, such as the United States, over allegations that the local force ran a death squad responsible for dozens of extrajudicial killings.