Former PM George Brizan dies

ST. GEORGE’S — George Brizan, a former prime minister who was a founder of the country’s ruling party, has died in his Caribbean homeland. He was 69.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas said Brizan died Saturday at a hospital in the capital St. George’s after a long battle with diabetes.

Brizan became prime minister in February 1995 following the resignation of Prime Minister Nicholas Braithwaite. But his National Democratic Congress party was swept out of power four months later.

In 1999 elections, Brizan’s party lost all of its parliamentary seats. Brizan, who was opposition leader at the time, said dissent within the party had hurt its image.

Disappointed by the defeat and suffering health problems, Brizan announced his retirement from politics, saying doctors had warned him that the hectic work of politics meant risking deterioration of his diabetes.

Brizan helped found at least three parties during more than a quarter century in politics, including the National Democratic Congress, which returned to power in 2008.

He also was a member of the radical New Jewel Movement in the mid-1970s and returned to that party as a government education administrator before the party’s government was toppled in a coup by Marxist hard-liners that triggered a U.S. invasion.

Work halted on Ocho Rios project
KINGSTON — Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill has suspended a nearly $1 million project to beautify the popular resort town of Ocho Rios in the island’s northern region.

McNeill said he was scrapping plans to clean drains and renovate sidewalks following concerns about how the money was allocated and was being spent. He said investors were never asked how the program would be developed or the money used.

McNeill said Friday that he will review the project after appointing new advisory boards that oversee resort issues across Jamaica.

Deal signed to develop China resort
NASSAU — The resort company Kerzner International Holdings Ltd. said it signed an agreement to develop and manage a luxury resort in China.

The company said Feb. 16 that Chinese developers will work with the Plantation, Fla.-based Kerzner to develop the One&Only Sanya resort overlooking the South China Sea in the southern island province of Hainan. Terms were not disclosed.

Last month, the Canadian investment firm Brookfield Asset Management Inc. canceled its agreement to acquire three of Kerzner’s resort properties.

The $175 million debt-for-equity swap had called for Brookfield to take over the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, as well as One&Only Ocean Clubs on Paradise Island in the Bahamas and in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Latam bloc: Invite Cuba to summit
HAVANA (AP) — Leftist Latin American countries meeting Feb. 15 in Havana demanded that Cuba be invited to the upcoming Summit of the Americas but stopped short of threatening a boycott if the Caribbean nation is excluded.

Representatives of the bloc known as the Bolivarian Alliance, or ALBA, decided to hold off on any decision while awaiting word from summit host nation Colombia which has not said what it will do.

“We respectfully ask the brother government of Colombia to invite Cuba. There is no reason not to,” said Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino of Ecuador, whose President Rafael Correa first proposed the boycott during an ALBA meeting in early February.

“To not invite [Cuba] is to run the risk that this will  not be the latest summit but the Last Supper, because we don’t think it’s acceptable,” he said.

The following news briefs were compiled from dispatches from the Associated Press.