2005-03-10 / Caribbean Corner

caribbean roundup

t&t joins int’l

campaign for

tobacco control

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – Trinidad & Tobago recently joined a number of countries in effecting the first international legal instrument on tobacco control, saying it hoped this global initiative would help bring about a reduction in tobacco consumption on the island.

The international treaty known as the World Health Organization (WTO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was adopted by 192 states at the World Health Assembly in 2003. Port-of-Spain signed the convention in August 2003, ratifying the treaty one year later.

The treaty is aimed at further regula-ting the demand for, and the supply of tobacco products because of its devastating effects on public health worldwide.

In a full page newspaper advertisement, the National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program (NAD-APP) said it welcomed the initiative, saying it is “all the more relevant as it has been noted in Trinidad & Tobago an increase in tobacco consumption, even by the children of this nation.

“This treaty, while it address the control of tobacco products from both the supply and demand aspects, has given rise to a significant shift in focus.

“The focus is now on reducing the demand to consume tobacco products as the main strategy in tobacco control. This is in contrast to the previous focus of controlling the availability of the supply of tobacco products,” it added.

Parties to the treaty agree to institute a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship “whe-ther via direct or indirect form, sports events, music events, within a five year period.”

They have also agreed to “adopt and implement effective legislative, executive, administrative or other measures at the appropriate government level to prohibit the sales of tobacco products to persons under the age set by national law or 18.”

The treaty also calls on manufacturers to disclose to the government, the contents of their tobacco products and countries are also urged to adopt and implement “effective measures for public disclosure of information about the toxic constituents of the tobacco products and the emissions that they produce.”

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters arrived in Haiti to visit jailed former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, whose health reportedly is deteriorating since he went on hunger strike two weeks ago to protest his prolonged detention.

Waters, a California Democrat and a staunch critic of U.S. policy toward Haiti, was accompanied by a medical team and wanted to examine Neptune, who has been held for eight months.

Waters entered the national penitentiary Monday where Neptune and former Interior Minister Jocelerme Pri-vert are among dozens of ex-officials jailed without charge since ousted Pre-sident Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled a rebel uprising one year ago.

Both men deny accusations of or-chestrating killings of Aristide opponents in the western town of St. Marc during the uprising.

Concerns over Neptune’s health come as Western governments pressure Haiti’s government to move Neptune’s trial from St. Marc to the capital, saying U.N. peacekeepers could not guarantee his security in the town.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – A Canadian legislator, who recently paid a two-day visit to flood-stricken areas in Guyana, is warning that a collapse of the 150-year old Dutch constructed East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) dam, could result in the death of thousands of people in the country.

“Guyana as we know it today would cease to exist,” Jim Karygiannis, parliamentary secretary to the Transport Minister said.

In a report posted on the Internet, the legislator warned if the dam collapses “there is a very real possibility that thousands would perish - from the flood itself and from disease.”

Karygiannis quoted Ravi Narine, chief executive officer of the Drainage and Irrigation (D&I) Board as saying “if it breaks, we will lose the coast.”

According to the Internet report, Narine told the visiting Canadian legislator if the Conservancy dam, which protects 200 square feet of water, breaks, “most of the populated coastal area of Guyana would be flooded and that the seawall could collapse.”

“This would cause the coastline of Guyana to recede up to 20 miles in-land, requiring the immediate evacuation of up to 40 percent of the population.”

The report said if the EDWC dam fails “the only way to evacuate people would be by boat. The feeling was that airport would remain above water but the road to the airport would be quickly flooded and not be passable.”

“Should the international community be able to respond quickly enough to be able to evacuate people, with Georgetown under water, there is no community large enough to take the refugees.

“The national government would not be able to function as there would be major disruptions in communications, government offices would be underwater and government members, them-selves, would have to be evacuated,” Karygiannis wrote in his report.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – The grounding of several Air Jamaica planes to comply with U.S. air safety rules has crippled the troubled carrier’s operations, costing it millions of dollars in revenue, the airline’s top executive said.

Air Jamaica pulled half of its 20 planes out of service and canceled several U.S. and Britain-bound flights earlier this month after a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration audit raised questions about the airline’s maintenance schedule, company executive chairman Vin Lawrence said.

The canceled flights and subsequent delays for travelers had battered the airline’s earnings as it struggles to recover from financial crisis two months after being taken over by the government, Lawrence said Feb. 24.

In an assessment to Jamaica’s civil aviation authority, the FAA insisted Air Jamaica carry out major maintenance to planes every 15 months in-stead of every 18 months, disrupting the airline’s repairs schedule and forcing the flight cancellations, he said.

ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has signed a $54 million loan agreement with the French Development Agency, Agence Francaise De Development, for the rehabilitation of the Roseau to Mel-ville Hall Airport road.

The 52-kilometre road project will complement the redevelopment of the Melville Hall Airport, which is being redeveloped with funding from the European Union and the Venezuelan government at a total cost of over $60 million.

The project will include the resurfacing, widening and reinforcement and the reconstruction of new bridges along the route.

The French have been our friends throughout a difficult period and they have always responded in a favorable manner to Dominica’s request for assistance,” Prime Minister Skerrit said at the signing ceremony.

“The French have assisted us tre-mendously in the area of health in particular and today they are now de-monstrating their continued interest in Dominica and coming forward to assist us not only in this loan at much better terms and conditions, but also in regards to our debt restructuring,” he added.

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