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Colombia willing to participate in CARIFESTA – Dominica News Online

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New Colombian Ambassador to CARICOM HE Martha Pinilla presents her Letter of Credence to CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

Colombia’s new Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Wednesday said her country will make every effort to participate in the Caribbean mega festival of arts: CARIFESTA XIV, scheduled for August 16-25 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque extended the invitation to Her Excellency Martha Pinilla, as he received her credentials at the Georgetown, Guyana Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat.

Underscoring the importance of people-to-people contact, the Secretary-General said the significant presence of people of CARICOM origin in Colombia, present ideal opportunities to strengthen relations.

In this vein, he told the Ambassador that CARIFESTA XIV is “an excellent opportunity” for Colombia and CARICOM to share their cultural experiences.

Ambassador Pinilla said enhancing diplomatic ties with the Region is a foreign policy priority of President Iván Duque’s government. The presentation of her credentials, she said, is one of several actions in that regard. Other actions include visits to eight CARICOM countries by Colombia’s Foreign Minister, His Excellency Carlos Trujillo, and a bilateral meeting with the Secretary-General.

CARICOM and Colombia are expected to resuscitate high-level political dialogue to discuss cooperation in areas of mutual interests on June 29th, in Cartagena, at the First Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Colombia.

Secretary-General LaRocque said his recent discussions with Mr. Trujillo focussed on areas such as trade, technical cooperation, disaster management and security. However, he stressed the importance of reviving trade between CARICOM and Colombia in light of data which revealed that total trade exceeded three billion US dollars as of 2013, but declined to 520 million dollars by 2016.

In this regard, he said the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has agreed to Colombia’s proposal to host the seventh meeting of the Joint Council – the main implementing mechanism established under the 1994 Agreement on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation between CARICOM and Colombia.

Ambassador Pinilla agreed that the Agreement, “is an ideal tool to continue interlacing” CARICOM-Colombia economies.

While the Agreement addresses economic and technical cooperation, the Secretary-General said human resource development, science and technology, research and development, renewable energy, tourism and agricultural development, and migration are other areas of common interest they can explore.

The SG requested Colombia’s support for CARICOM’s advocacy for international policies that allow for a balanced approach in the provision of financial resources to help Small Island Developing States combat climate change and build their resilience.

PHOTO CAPTION: New Colombian Ambassador to CARICOM HE Martha Pinilla presents her Letter of Credence to CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque





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Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort responds to Joshua Francis’ remarks concerning the public library

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Aerial shot of the entire Fort Section including 32 rooms destroyed after Hurricane Maria

On June 5th 2019 Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort found it necessary to issue a statement to respond to speculation regarding the Peebles Park & the Public Library, essentially clarifying that there is no discussion or intention between the Fort Young Hotel or its ownership and the Government of Dominica regarding the acquisition, in whole or in part, of Peebles Park or the Public Library.  Due to remarks made by Joshua Francis, Deputy Leader of the United Works Party, in a live video broadcast posted on Facebook on Wednesday, November 13th 2019, the hotel once again deems a response and clarification necessary.

Mr. Francis, among other things states, “the Fort Young basically has taken the space of the Library”….  He goes on to show a lower section of land behind the Library, stating “right here, you can see again that ah Fort Young basically has taken the space of the library. This is the container right here.”  He continues, “so basically the Nassiefs have taken over our public library. That’s the way I I see it. Because if they have not taken over it means that they are trespassers because work is happening right at the back of the library here.”  And finally, towards the end of his discourse, he discovers something mysterious: “You see it right here? Something is happening at the library, something mysterious. Because here it is, watch this. I want the world to ask the government of Dominica exactly what is happening at the back of the library. You seeing a cage right? Something is in that cage, it’s under a brown tarpaulin. Is it building materials? We don’t know, we don’t know.”

The hotel wishes to make the following clarifications:

  1. The hotel has not in fact taken over the Library, but requested and received permission from the Government of Dominica to use the Northern Section as access for construction, without which the hotel could not be reconstructed; the Government issued such permission; the hotel is therefore not trespassing.
  2. The Nassiefs have definitely not taken over the public library. And for general public information, the hotel is owned by 34 shareholders of which less than half are members of the Nassief family, and the largest direct or indirect holding by a member of the Nassief family is approximately 35%, and the Government of Dominica is in fact one of the many Shareholders of the hotel and has been for over 30 years.
  3. The Lower Section with the container that Mr. Francis is referring to is land that has been owned by the Fort Young for over 14 years and is not Library land.
  4. The “mysterious cage” that Mr. Francis points out is in fact a “water bladder” which provides emergency backup water storage for the hotel; the hotel requested and the Government granted permission to temporary lay the bladders there as its own backup water system was destroyed during Hurricane Maria and these were brought in as a temporary measure prior to this year’s hurricane season.

The Fort Young Hotel is very grateful to the Government of Dominica for its much-needed support during this critical time of reconstruction and expansion.  Having lost all 32 of its “Fort Rooms” to Hurricane Maria (reference Photo 1 below), the hotel is undertaking a major expansion to re-open with 100 rooms in the third quarter of 2020. The practicalities of major construction on a site surrounded by a historic fort wall (reference Photo 2 below) necessitated special access through the Northern section of the Library.  Without said access, preserving the historical fort fabric and heritage would not have been possible.  The Hotel’s access thru and activities on this section of the Library grounds are fully authorized by the Government.  The Fort Young Hotel remains committed to engaging the government and the community as the resort pushes ahead with its reconstruction and expansionso as tocontinue to play an important role in Dominica’s tourism development. The hotel’s total expected investment will exceed ec$40 Million.  It is also important to clarify that, contrary to speculation, the Hotel is not a participant in Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Program nor has it received any special funding from the Government.

Located on the water in Roseau, Dominica’s capital, Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort is the country’s only downtown hotel, affording guests unmatched proximity to the “Nature Island’s” vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, exhilarating activities and some of the island’s most prized attractions, like Trafalgar Falls, Middleham Falls, Freshwater Lake, segments of the Waitukubuli National Trail, and world-renowned diving. Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort offers a luxurious sense of seclusion, fine dining and meeting facilities. Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort can be reached at 767-448-5000 or info@foryounghotel.com.





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Saint Jean bashes Linton for taking salute at youth rally

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Lennox Linton Leader of the opposition saluting the students in place of the Prime Minister

The Minister for of Education and Human Resource Development, Petter Saint Jean, finally broke his silence on the decision by students to march in defiance of instructions by Education Officials to call off the march past at the national youth parade and the Leader of the Opposition’s response to that decision.

 The organizers cancelled the parade due to inclement weather but the students rejected that decision and proceeded to march in the absence of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who had already left the venue.

With the prime minister being absent, Opposition Leader Lennox Linton, who was positioned in front of the stage, took the salute from the marching students.

“All sober and right-thinking Dominicans must have been appalled, annoyed and disgusted,” Saint Jean commented, in response, in a recent statement which appeared on social media.

He said the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has always given utmost priority to the safety and security of the nation’s youth.

“Friday, November 1st, the meteorological services reported unstable weather conditions with scattered showers and possible isolated thunderstorms,” the Education Minister stated. “The Windsor Park Stadium grounds were waterlogged; there were light showers and the conditions appeared threatening.”

According to Saint-Jean, the ministry decided in the interest of the students and their teachers, to cancel the march-past.

“There was defiance by some students, reportedly encouraged by some including senior officials within the Ministry of Education and Lennox Linton, the Leader of the Opposition,” he remarked.

St. Jean accused Linton of breaking “all norms, protocol, decency, and respect for authority when he proceeded to pose for the salute”  adding that this cation confirmed the leader of the opposition as someone who lacked discipline and respect for authority.

“His actions clearly illustrate that he was encouraging our children to show disrespect to public officials and to defy authority which is symptomatic of the campaign that he has waged over the last 10 years,” he stated.

Saint Jean went on to describe Linton’s action as a clear demonstration of the UWP leader’s irresponsibility and his unfitness to lead Dominica.

“Mr Linton’s poor judgement, bad example and hunger for power have all gone to his head and we must, as a nation, pray for him,” he remarked.

Linton has that his decision to take the salute from the students had nothing to do with politics; instead, he wanted to show support for the students.

He said after observing that while the children were chanting “we want to march, we want to march”, the prime minister and his family were leaving the park and the other members of the government were leaving with the prime minister as well.

The Opposition Leader explained that considering the “long and hard” work the young persons had put into preparing for the event, and the unreasonable decision taken by the Ministry of Education to not allow the students to march, he decided, as a show of symbolism, for their independent action and decision, to take their salute being the highest-ranking parliamentarian left in the stadium.

He said it was very inspiring for him as a leader, looking at young children being independent in mind and spirit.

Meantime, Saint Jean revealed that the Independence Youth Sports Meet was postponed three (3) times because of the soggy conditions of the Benjamin’s Park in Portsmouth.

“Eventually this sports meet did not take place because of the likelihood of injury to the young and enthusiastic athletes,” he revealed. “There were no complaints.

Saint Jean said that the organizers, students and athletes “and certainly their parents,” were all in agreement that the action taken by the ministry was in the interest of those who had trained and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to display their athletic prowess.





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Veteran musician and sound engineer, Marcel Cruickshank, passes away

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Marcel Cruickshank at his sound mixer board

Veteran musician, Marcel Cruickshank, who was for many years a member of Dominican’s longest-serving band, the Swinging Stars, has passed away.

Swinging Band leader Peter Letang told Dominica News Online (DNO) this morning that Cruikshank died at the Princess Margaret Hospital at 7:25 last night. He said Cruickshank had been ailing since after Carnival this year.

Cruikshank started off in music as a drummer and later became the sound engineer for the Swinging Stars for the rest of his musical career.

Letang also told DNO that Cruikship was the drummer involved in the original creation of the soca beat which has been attributed to the Lord Shorty of Trinidad and Tobago.

Criuckshank was also an electronics technician who operated a repair workshop located in Roseau.





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