Haitian elections come off clean
The Haitian General elections went off without major incident on Sunday, October 25, less than three months after parliamentary polls that were marred by violence.
Over 15,000 policemen and United Nations peacekeeping force members were deployed to prevent any incidents. CARICOM also fielded a 13 member election observation mission following a request from the Government of Haiti.
Haitians voted for a new president from more than 50 candidates running for the country’s top office, as well as casting ballots for lawmakers and local officials.
A runoff presidential vote will be held in December between the top two candidates.
Haitians were choosing from more than 50 candidates to succeed President Michel Martelly.
The main candidates for the runoff are expected to be Jude Celestin, Jovenel Moise and Maryse Narcisse—a physician who has the backing of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Most political pundits has chosen Mr. Moise, who owns a banana exporting business, to face of against Jude Celestin, a Swiss-educated mechanical engineer, in a run-off vote on 27 December.
Since its devastation by an earthquake in 2010, Haiti has relied largely on international donations and foreign aid from the United States and other countries.
Caribbean tourism booming in 2015
Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean have increased by nearly six per cent during the first six months of this year says Chairman of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Richard Sealy.
Sealy told journalist at the State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC 2015) that “For the first six months of 2015 the Caribbean welcomed 14.8 million, approximately 800,000 or 5.8 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 2014.” This figures is well above the 4.1 per cent increase recorded globally.
The Caribbean share of global arrivals stood at 2.8 per cent,” said Sealy, who is also the Minister of Tourism in Barbados.
The United States remains the Caribbean main market accounting for 7.3 million arrivals between January and June. This represented a 5.3 per cent increase from the previous year.
He said that the Canadian market continues to perform well with 2.1 million visitors coming to the region during the first half of 2015, while arrivals from Europe increased by a modest 1.1 per cent, moving from 2.58 million in 2014 to 2.61 in 2015.
The thawing of relationships between Cuba and United States has resulted in a greater number of American transiting through other countries like the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in order to visit Havana. Cuba is now seen as the main rival to the English Speaking Caribbean tourism product.
Caribbean cruises continued to do well and was responsible for bringing an estimated 13.7 million passengers to the region within the first six months of the year.
Based on the growth seen so far this year, The Caribbean Tourism Organization is predicting a 5-6% grow in tourist arrivals for 2015.
Trinidad and Tobago
Rudder Granted Honorary Doctorate
Veteran Calypsonian David Rudder has been awarded an honorary Doctor of letters degree from the University of the West Indies for his outstanding contribution to the cultural art form of Calypso and Soca Music.
The award was bestowed upon Rudder last Saturday (24th October) as part of the Universities Graduation Ceremony. The Calypsonian can now claim the name Dr. David Micheal Rudder.
After the graduation, Rudder was grateful for the honor saying that it was a sign that his music was not “just floating in the wind.”
Rudder, who is one of the most successful Calypsonians ever, rose to prominence in 1986 in his home land of Trinidad and Tobago when he won both the International Calypso Monarch and Road March with ‘Bahai Girl” and “The Hammer”. The following year, Rudder released “Calypso Music”, still one of the best encapsulations of the history of Calypso music. His 1988 Album, Haiti, which included tracks such as Haiti (a tribute to that country) and “Rally ‘Round the West Indies (which became the team’s anthem for many years) is still regarded as his most significant piece of work.
Rudder, now 62, still performs and records music.
UN Rejects US Embargo on Cuba
The United States voted against a U.N. resolution criticizing the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba Tuesday, despite initial U.S. discussions about abstaining on the annual vote according to the CNN.
The U.S. had considered taking a less emphatic stance on the resolution in light of the new opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries. U.S. officials said they decided to cast a “no” ballot because the text did not fully reflect the spirit of the recent opening between the two former enemies. In other words, the US voted against the resolution put forward by Cuba because in their estimation, it is not commensurate with what they wanted. Only Isreal supported the US in opposing the resolution, with 191 voting for it.
A unanimous resolution could have put further pressure on Congress to scrap the embargo.
The resolution introduced by Cuba, demanded an end to the embargo—which it refers to as a “blockade.”
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla did not hold back on his views about the embargo restrictions which the Americans have maintained: “The blockade is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans; it is contrary to International Law; it has been described as a crime of genocide,” the statement declared.
The Americans have said repeatedly that Cuba has to reform most of its humanitarian, economic and political policies if it wants the embargo lifted. This may even include abolishing the communist structure that the country is currently governed by.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress to repeal the embargo since he announced in December that Washington and Cuba would restore diplomatic ties. In the meantime, he has eased restrictions on travel and trade to Cuba. In August, the two countries re-opened embassies.