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Mottley rejects US invitation to meet with select CARICOM countries – warns of attempts to divide region

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Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has warned of the attempt to divide the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping as some regional leaders get ready to meet with United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Tuesday.

Addressing a gala to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late Barbados prime minister and regional integrationist Errol W. Barrow on Saturday night, Mottley said that she is conscious that in the next week questions will be asked as to whether the Barbados foreign minister happened to be missing in a meeting in Kingston in Jamaica that will take place on Tuesday.

“We don’t look to pick fights. I don’t look to pick fights, but I am conscious that if this country does not stand for something, then it will fall for anything. As chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region,” Mottley said.

Earlier this week, Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith said Pompeo’s two-day working visit, which begins on January 21, is a commitment to strengthen relations with the Caribbean.

“We welcome the visit of Secretary Pompeo as a demonstration of the commitment of the United States of America to once more strengthen its engagement with Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. We truly look forward to this opportunity to engage and reinforce our longstanding ties,” she added.

Pompeo will hold talks with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness and senior members of his cabinet on the second day of the visit and is expected to give a policy speech on the Caribbean region’s critical importance to the United States, and the country’s renewed commitment to closer ties, based on shared values, interests and economic prosperity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said.

Both the Jamaica Gleaner and the Observer newspaper, quoting sources, said that Pompeo is also due to meet with several Caribbean leaders.

But a CARICOM source told the Caribbean Media Corporation that the regional grouping had not been formally invited to participate in the discussions during Pompeo’s visit.

Last year, Holness was among four Caribbean leaders – St. Lucia, the Bahamas and Haiti – who flew to Miami to meet with US President Donald Trump where they discussed the ongoing political situation in Venezuela where Washington is seeking to remove President Nicolas Maduro in favour of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

CARICOM leaders at their last summit in St Lucia last July reiterated their position of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

Mottley told the gala that she was conscious that when Errol Barrow stood and remarked that “we shall be friends of all and satellites of none,” little did he know that that statement would be embraced by every single prime minister of Barbados that succeeded him.

“It is as valid today, perhaps even more so than it was at the time of its initial delivery.  And I say so conscious that principles only mean something when it is inconvenient to stand by them.

“Conscious that this region must always cheek itself to ensure that we do not become the pawns of others, the satellites of others, but that we keep every most and uppermost in our minds what we must do for our people without simply becoming pawns on a chessboard for others to be able to benefit from,” she added.

The CARICOM chairman said that the sense of commitment to principle is what inspires the region to this position.

“And therefore, it didn’t take a lot of thought as to what our decision should be because this country does not pretend to be what it is not and does not pretend to have that which it doesn’t. But it does aspire to be sincere and to be correct and to be moral and to be principled.”

She told the audience that the expression delivered to the president of the United States “who offered to pay our dues to join the Organization of American States when  Barrow politely refused and said “in our part of the world where I come from, if you cannot afford the dues, you do not join the club.

“That is the Barbados first to which I speak,” she told the gala.





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Dominica

Dominican manufacturers urged to put all hands on deck to advance manufacturing

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Dr. Peter Alfred

Dominican National, Dr. Peter Alfred, has called on all manufactures to work together for the advancement of the Dominica Manufacturers Association (DMA).

Alfred was the keynote speaker at a DMA national symposium held on Thursday at the Goodwill Parish Hall.

“We are no doubt aware of the fact that for manufacturing and by extension, exports, to advance in our homeland, all hands need to be on deck including the public sector, the private sector [and] the multilateral agencies,” he stated.

Alfred said given the relatively small size of the vast majority of manufacturers and businesses, it is advisable to broaden the membership of the DMA in order to benefit from having a louder and more widely supported voice.

He said that there is also a need to have a vibrant and dynamic member’s organization.

“The DMA should strengthen its organization and strive to present a compelling value proposition that will serve to attract, keep, mobilize and stimulate its members,” he advised.

Alfred further urged manufactures to see DMA as their “campaign” and “mouthpiece” adding that the DMA should also deliver on the expectations of its members.

Meantime, Minister for Trade and Commerce, Ian Douglas said that the manufacturing sector holds tremendous potential to address food security concerns and reconfiguration of Dominica’s import and export dynamics.

“My vision places manufacturing at the core of the new ministry and as the minister for trade and commerce I’m happy to share this new vision of increase production for sustainable employment and export,” Douglas stated.

He said this new direction should spur sustainable growth in the production and manufacturing sector.

“I am certainly in agreement with this vision since it is in sync with the ministry of trade and commerce to be the driver for export development,” the minister remarked.

Douglas commended the members of the DMA for what he referred to as a progressive theme: “To step up production for sustainable employment and export.”

Minister for Trade and Commerce, Ian Douglas





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Police report slight drop in crime in Dominica for 2019

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A total of eight hundred and thirty-five (835) serious crimes were reported in Dominica in 2019 and according to Police Chief, Daniel Carbon, this was slightly lower than the figure of 906 which was reported in 2018.Carbon said during a recently held press conference that in terms of minor crimes, three thousand, five hundred and one (3501) offenses were reported in 2019.

“For minor offenses in 2018, 3856 minor crimes were reported to the police and in 2019, 3501 minor offenses were reported to the police and we realized a reduction by 355 minor crimes in 2019,” he noted.

He said ten (10) murders were reported in 2019, compared to eleven (11) in 2018.

“I have a concern with the number of murders that are being committed as we all know one murder is one too many,” Carbon stated.

He noted, however, that out of the 10 murders that were reported in 2019, six were gun-related and eight were detected.

There were also twenty (20) firearm offenses in 2019, according to Carbon, an increase from the sixteen which were reported in 2018.





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More funds needed to complete renovation of Roseau Cathedral

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Newly-renovated cathedral roof

His Lordship, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, has revealed that the renovation work at the Roseau Cathedral has not moved at the rate as expected and will need an additional 3 to 4 million dollars for its completion.

The Roseau Cathedral, which is over 150 years old, represents historical, cultural and religious significance for the people of Dominica and its renovation is being done in phases. The project started back in 2013 and has encountered several delays.

In July 2019, Dean of the Roseau Cathedral, Fr. Nigel Karam, said that the Cathedral was completely covered but there were still finishing touches to be added to the roofing and that is expected to be completed by the end of July.

He added that although the damage caused by Hurricane Maria was “fairly extensive”, most of the work is already done and what is left is mainly the cleaning and redoing of the floors which were completely damaged by the weather conditions. He said the majority of the tiles on the roof remained in place and proved to be resilient.

“The Cathedral, unfortunately, has not moved at the rate that we expected,” Bishop Malzaire told Dominica News Online (DNO) in an interview.

“But right now we are at the stage of working on the flooring,” he said. “We would need at least 3 to 4 million dollars to complete; right now, the monies that we have will only finish the floor.”

According to the Bishop, when one is doing renovation work, it’s almost difficult to gauge exactly what is needed, “because as you go along, you realize you have more than you expected.”

“Initially a project that should be a $2.5 million project has gone to $12million,” Malzaire stated.

Meantime, he said the roof is finished.

“After that, we have, of course, the windows and doors. Then, we have the choir loft; then we have to finish the ceiling…,” Bishop Malzaire explained. “After the floor, the last major work we have to do is the ceiling. So, I think we are on our way.”





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