Ruel Reid

Ruel Reid

Bail set in corruption case tied to Jamaican ministry

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Former education minister Ruel Reid and the president of the Caribbean Maritime Fritz Pinnock were granted bail when they appeared in court recently to face several charges including conspiracy to defraud.

Reid’s bail was set at $3 million while Pinoock was $2 million. They are among five people, comprising the Brown’s Town Division councilor as well as Reid’s wife and daughter, arrested after the police searched their homes earlier this month as part of investigations into a major corruption case involving the Education Ministry and other related agencies.

They are all due to return to court on Jan. 23.

The five were charged with a range of offenses, including breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act, conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in a public office at common law and breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Reid was forced to resign in March by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

U.N. agency makes appeal for $10M in aid for Bahamas

UNITED NATIONS — The International Organization for Migration has launched a $10 million appeal to assist The Bahamas as the country continues to recover from the Hurricane Dorian devastation just over a month ago.

IOM recently said the funding would support its operations in areas such as camp coordination and management, provision of shelter and non-food items, and emergency evacuations through April 2020.

“Hurricane Dorian caused widespread devastation on the islands of Abaco, from Marsh Harbour to the north, and Grand Bahama; from Pelican Point east to McLean’s Town; leaving behind a trail of destroyed infrastructure, clogged with debris from devastated houses, domestic goods, vehicles and natural debris like trees and mangroves, uprooted by the storm surge,” said IOM officer Nazif Aliu.

The UN said that Category 5 storm hit the Bahamas on Sept. 1, causing 61 deaths and leaving more than 600 people still missing.

IOM has established two offices in the Bahamas — one in the capital, Nassau, and the other on Abaco — with a third planned for Grand Bahama.

The organization said it is already supporting the country through grants from the United States and the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund, representing nearly $2 million of the appeal.

The funding has allowed IOM to begin debris removal in Abaco, in partnership with the Community Organized Relief Effort, the UN said.

“We are removing over 100 cubic meters of debris daily. This operation is coordinated with the government of The Bahamas, through its emergency response agency NEMA, which is leading the organized planning of debris removal”, said Aliu, who is based in Abaco.

The UN said the Bahamian authorities have also formally requested IOM to help relocate citizens stranded in the United States after their evacuation following Hurricane Dorian.

Haiti political unrest stirs concerns among neighbors

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The Caribbean Community said recently that it was “deeply concerned” about the protracted political crisis in Haiti where opposition parties have been staging street demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

The Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said it was awaiting for a response from its French-speaking member for permission for a delegation to visit.

CARICOM Chairman and St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and the CARICOM Secretariat had confirmed the decision for a team to visit Haiti. The decision to send a delegation comprising, Chastanet, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis had been taken at the CARICOM Summit held in St Lucia in July.

Opposition parties in Haiti have accused Moïse of embezzlement, but the head of state has defended himself against the findings contained in the report from the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation about programs and projects funded by the PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment.

The report found that significant shortcomings have been associated with the planning and implementation of development programs and projects funded by the PetroCaribe Fund.

However, plans for the delegation to visit Haiti have been placed on hold as the situation worsened.

Cuban airline blames U.S. sanctions for ending routes

HAVANA — The nation’s official airline Cubana says it is canceling routes to seven international destinations because of the Trump administration sanctions on companies that lease planes to the national carrier.

The Trump administration has revoked licenses of companies that lease aircraft to Cuban state-owned airlines because the airlines use the planes to take tourists to Cuba. U.S. regulations prohibit Americans from engaging in tourism in Cuba. Travel with special purposes, like visiting religious institutions or supporting private businesses and civil society, is allowed.

Gunfire wounds 7 in Haiti at protest roadblock

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Police said seven young men were shot and wounded early Monday as they set up a roadblock as part of protests in the southern city of Jacmel.

Marc-André Cadostin, director of the southeast department of the National Police, said two of the men, ages 20 and 25, were transferred in critical condition to the capital, Port-au-Prince. The other five men were being treated at a local hospital, he said.

Cadostin said the men were setting a barricade built across a road on fire when unknown suspects began shooting.

He said the motive for the shooting was unknown, although tensions have been rising between government supporters and protesters after months of demonstrations seeking to force President Jovenel Moise to leave office.

FBI find no foul play in death of American tourists

WASHINGTON — The State Department says FBI toxicology reports on the mysterious deaths of U.S. tourists in the Dominican Republic showed no evidence inconsistent with the island nation’s findings of natural causes.

The department says “the results of the additional, extensive toxicology testing completed to date have been consistent with the findings of local authorities.” The department says that families have been informed of the results.

The first deaths to make headlines were in May, when a couple seemingly died at the same time in the same hotel room.

The Dominican Republic’s tourism minister said in June that the deaths were not part of any mysterious series of fatalities but were a statistically normal phenomenon being lumped together by the U.S. media.

— Compiled from The Associated Press

U.S. slaps new sanctions on Cuba over ties to human rights, Venezuela

WASHINGTON — The United States recently imposed new sanctions on Cuba over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and its human rights record at home.

The Department of Commerce said in a statement it is revoking existing licenses for aircraft leases to Cuban state-owned airlines and will deny future applications for aircraft leases. It will also expand the sanctions on Cuba to include more foreign goods containing U.S. contents.

Washington said the measures seek to hold the Cuban regime accountable for repressing its own people and for providing support to the Venezuela’s government, which it accuses of human rights abuses and collapsing the country’s economy.

Cuban state media reported that companies in third countries that rented planes to Cubana had cancelled contracts, forcing the cancellation of routes to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Haiti, Martinique and Guadeloupe. Domestic routes will also be affected. Cubana said passengers will receive refunds.

Relations between Cuba and the U.S. have deteriorated under President Donald Trump. His administration has restricted travel to the island and imposed new economic sanctions.

Ex-NBA star Michael Jordan to aid Bahamas with $1M

Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls great, has pledged $1 million to help the Bahamas in its efforts to recover from Hurricane Dorian.

The Category 5 storm reportedly left more than 70,000 people homeless in the Bahamas, and at least 50 people have lost their lives.

“I am devastated to see the destruction that Hurricane Dorian has brought to the Bahamas, where I own property and visit frequently,” Jordan said in a statement. “My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and to those who have lost loved ones,” he said.

Jordan, whose Air Jordan Nike sneaker brand has remained as legendary as his talents despite being retired for nearly 20 years, currently is the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

Last year, Jordan gave $2 million to support North Carolina after Hurricane Florence devastated the Carolinas.

ICE jail site of apparent suicide by Cuban asylum seeker

HOUSTON — A Cuban man who legally sought asylum died by apparent suicide while being detained at an immigration jail in Louisiana, authorities said Wednesday.

Roylan Hernandez Diaz, 43, was found unresponsive Tuesday afternoon inside his cell at the Richwood Correctional Center, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said he had appeared to strangle himself.

Hernandez had been in ICE detention since May, when he applied for asylum at a border bridge in El Paso, Texas. According to the agency, Hernandez was deemed “inadmissible” by border agents and placed in detention.

Located in Monroe, Louisiana, Richwood is one of eight jails in the state, most in the rural northern part, that have switched to detaining immigrants since last year. ICE has dramatically expanded migrant detention in the state, with about 8,000 people held in Louisiana out of about 51,000 nationally.

Many of those jailed in Louisiana are asylum seekers, including people who say they are fleeing political repression in Cuba and Venezuela.

Disaster management tasks being returned to Bahamas

BRIDGETOWN, Bahamas — The Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency was preparing to restore key operations to the Bahamian government weeks after Hurricane Dorian slammed the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Ronald Jackson, the organization’s executive director, said authorities were “shifting gears” from emergency to recovery. He said during a recent press conference that the establishment of a new Disaster Preparedness Ministry in the Bahamas signaled the end of CDEMA’s mission.

The official death toll in the Bahamas remains at 53 and the number of missing people has been reduced from 1,300 to 608, according to a recent report.

Virgin Islands appoints director of new tourism division

Marketing and communications specialist Ian Turnbull has been appointed the territory-wide director of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism’s new Division of Festivals.

Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte has announced that Turnbull will oversee the running and marketing of all official events and festivals taking place in the U.S. territory, including the upcoming Crucian Christmas Festival to be held on St. Croix.

Turnbull joins the department from the University of the Virgin Islands’ Reichhold Center for the Arts where he served as the marketing manager.

The Department of Tourism continues to work with members of the Virgin Islands Legislature and the Office of Management and Budget to secure funding to staff the Division of Festivals and the Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute within the Department of Tourism. The assistant director of festivals for St. John will be announced at a later date.

— COMPILED FOR TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICES

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