2004-12-09 / Caribbean Corner

caribbean roundup

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Jam-aica plans to open an embassy in Beij-ing next year, an official said recently, signaling a deepening of ties between the Caribbean island and China.

The embassy’s main purpose will be to increase trade and investment be-tween Jamaica and the Asian economic giant, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokes-man Wilton Dyer said. An ambassador has yet to be named.

The embassy, expected to opened by mid-2005, is the latest sign of strength-ening diplomatic relations between Beijing and Kingston.

China’s Vice President Zeng Qing-hong is scheduled to visit the island in February for talks with Jamaica’s government and to attend a trade forum created to boost commerce between China and the Caribbean.

Bilateral trade between China and the Caribbean reached US$1.4 billion in 2003, up 30 percent compared to 2002.

Jamaica and China established di-plomatic relations in 1972. China al-ready has an embassy in Kingston, while Jamaica has consulates in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The Caribbean long has been a diplomatic dueling ground for China and Taiwan, which accuse each other of using “dollar diplomacy’’ to win votes at the United Nations.

Dominica recently established relations with China, which promised some EC$300 million (US$112 million) in aid to the country. Taiwan responded by severing ties with the tiny island, one of the poorest in the region.

Though democratic Taiwan is self-governing, communist Beijing insists it is part of China and should not have formal relations with other countries. The two sides split amid civil war in 1949.

Taiwan now has official ties with mostly small, impoverished countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Ca-ribbean. The Taiwanese use such allies to shore up their claim that Taiwan is sovereign and independent.

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago have diplomatic ties with China.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – Haiti is worse off under its U.S.-back-ed government than it was under ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, asserting the Caribbean Community is right not to readmit Haiti to its meetings.

Haiti lost its seat after Aristide was ousted Feb. 29 under diplomatic pressure and an armed insurrection led by demobilized soldiers. Aristide alleges the United States organized his ouster, a charge the United States denies.

At a Caribbean Community summit last month, Haiti’s bid to be readmitted to meetings was turned down. Leaders cited human rights and security concerns.

Since July, most Caribbean countries had called for Haiti to retake its seat. Guyana, St. Vincent and the Gre-nadines, and St. Lucia have maintain-ed a hard line.

“The situation has deteriorated, and the same things that the international community was accusing Aristide of (interim Premier Gerard) Latortue has done worse,’’ said Jagdeo, speaking on local television recently.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – Seeromani Maharaj Naraynsingh, the wife of a prominent University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer, appeared in a Magistrate’s court on charge of murdering the lecturer’s first wife, 10 years ago.

Prosecutors said that Seeromani, 45, and car parts dealer, Elton Ramasir, 53, were involved in the murder of Dr. Chandra Naraynsingh, who was shot several times outside a now defunct medical clinic on 29 June, 1994.

Police said that Professor Vijay Naraynsingh, who unsuccessfully tried to get a High Court injunction last Thursday blocking his participation in an identification parade, was also be-ing questioned in connection with the murder of his first wife.

Justice Sebastian Ventour ruled that Naraynsingh had failed to present sufficient evidence to support his case and dismissed the lawsuit. His lawyer, Prakash Ramadhar, told reporters that not withstanding the ruling, his client would surrender to the police late last Friday if the police wished to conduct an identification parade.

The two accused appeared before Senior Magistrate Lianne Lee Kim in the Port-of-Spain magistrate’s Court last Thursday. But their case was ad-journed last Friday, so as to allow them to make an appearance in the San Fer-nando Court.

Lawyers for the accused described the identification parade prior to the charges being laid against their clients as “nothing short of a charade.”

One man, Shawn Parris, who confessed to killing the doctor, has been jailed for life.

Ramadhar, who is also appearing for the accused, said that his clients had been identified by Parris and an-other “mysterious witness’ who is also reported to be a prisoner.

“It is troublesome to say the least,” he said adding that a trend was now developing where prisoners were now plotting in jail to furnish a “hungry and thirsty Policy Service” with fabricated stories to implicate law-abiding citizens and in exchange the prisoners “live like presidents.”

BARBUDA, Antigua (AP) – The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has decided to award CXC associate degrees in nine areas.

This is one of the major outcomes of its 35th meeting held in Antigua & Barbuda last week.

According to a release, the associate degrees will be awarded in nine areas: business studies, mathematics, environ-mental science, modern languages, gen-eral studies, natural science, humanities, technical studies and information technology. The associate degrees will be based on a cluster of seven Carib-bean Advanced Proficiency Examina-tion (CAPE) Units in each area, giving a total of 70 credits.

In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Minister of Education Bertrand Joseph said he was pleased that the council had reached this decision and noted that it was a significant development especially for non-campus tertiary institutions.

The award of a CXC associate de-gree was agreed in principle by the Ministers of Education at the 11th Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development.

The release from CXC did not state when the associate degree program would start.

Other outcomes from the meeting last week included the approval of a certificate in business studies.

ST. GEORGE”S, Grenada (AP) – Grenada is embarking on a program of retraining its labor force following the devastation to the island’s infrastructure by Hurricane Ivan.

The Grenada Government in conjunction with the United States Agen-cy for International Development (USAID) and the CARANA Corpora-tion on Wednesday formalized five grant agreements with five Grenada-based organizations to implement Hur-ricane Ivan recovery efforts.

The agreements are part of a broader program of a US-Grenada initiative, intended to help restore Grenada’s productive capacity and focus on skills training for displaced workers following the destruction caused by the hurricane in September.

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