*The following news items were compiled from Associated Press reports.
HAVANA – The United States and Cuba agreed to resume bilateral talks on migration issues next month, a State Department official said June 19, the latest evidence of a thaw in chilly relations between the Cold War enemies.
Havana and Washington recently wrapped up a round of separate negotiations aimed at restarting direct mail service which has been suspended since 1963. Both sets of talks have been on hold in recent years in a dispute over the fate of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year jail sentence in Havana after he was caught bringing communications equipment onto the island illegally. The migration talks will be held in Washington on July 17. The State Department official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publically, spoke on condition of anonymity.
SANTO DOMINGO – Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito is urging the country’s tourism ministry to advise foreign travelers not to hire prostitutes because they can face punishment. The move is part of a broader campaign by the attorney general to combat human trafficking and sex crimes. The United Nations Population Fund ranks the country fourth worldwide in the number of women who are trafficked to other nations. Prostitution itself is not illegal in the Dominican Republic but it is illegal to make money off the sexual services of another person or to force someone to work as a prostitute.
U.S. funds farming
PORT-AU-PRINCE – The United States Agency for International Development has begun an $87.8 million project to help farmers in the northern part of the country. The five-year project will be carried out by the Maryland-based private contractor Development Alternatives Inc. and sub-contractors. The effort is called Feed the Future North. It aims to increase incomes for at least 40,000 rural households, expand financial services to local businesses, stabilize watersheds that support farmland and pave roads to better reach inaccessible farming areas.
KINGSTON – The government is wooing citizens living abroad to invest in the country of their birth. Hundreds of entrepreneurs and other Jamaicans living abroad mingled recently with government officials and local business leaders, discussing ways to stimulate the island’s chronically stagnant economy. The conference held at a Montego Bay convention center sought to tap into the wealth, education and know-how of expatriates. About 3.3 million Jamaicans are believed to live abroad, mostly in the U.S., U.K and Canada, compared to 2.7 million Jamaicans living on the island. The expatriates send home about $2 billion a year in remittances, but Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton said the “Diaspora remains an untapped investment market.”