Foreign investment

HAVANA — The government  on April 16 published the full language of a new law that seeks to make it more attractive for foreign investors to bring badly needed capital but provides less advantage for projects that are 100 percent foreign-financed. Investments in mixed-ownership projects or in tandem with independent cooperatives will enjoy a tax holiday for the first eight years of operation and pay 15 percent on profits after that – about half the current rate. Such operations will also be exempt from payroll taxes.

Projects funded completely by foreign capital do not automatically qualify for those breaks, unless they are granted an exemption by the government. Foreign companies will still be required to hire local employees through a Cuban employment agency instead of directly, something that many who have done business on the island have complained about for years. The new rules replace a law from 1995 and are scheduled to take effect in late June.


Mob kills father

SANTO DOMINGO —  Jean Lounis, 37, a Haitian man, died after being attacked by a mob for allegedly stabbing his 4-month-old daughter, authorities said Sunday. The violence in the poor village of La Victoria began late Saturday when Lounis got into an argument with the infant’s mother, Patricia Philomar, and attacked her, police said. When the mother ran away to call police, Lounis allegedly stabbed his daughter in the neck and carried her outside by one leg. Neighbors then beat Lounis and stabbed him in several parts of his body, the statement said. He died Sunday morning in the hospital, police said. The baby was in intensive care following surgery.


Threats condemned

PORT-AU-PRINCE  —  The government says it won’t condone threats directed at rights activists and journalists. The statement came April 16, one day after Amnesty International said that a seasoned rights advocate had been threatened. Pierre Esperance of the National Human Rights Defense Network received a letter accusing him of publishing false reports that sought to destabilize President Michel Martelly’s government. A bullet was enclosed with the letter, along with a message saying that he won’t escape a future attack.


Natural gas project

KINGSTON — Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell announced that Hong Kong-based Energy World International was granted a license to supply 381 megawatts of gas-fired generating capacity to the country’s electricity grid. Paulwell described the project a “game changer” for the country which is almost entirely dependent on imported oil. He said it will be implemented over 26 months and will lower high electricity costs. Private-sector groups and watchdog agencies have criticized the evaluation process for the project.

Poet laureate named

KINGSTON — Mervyn Morris has been appointed the country’s first poet laureate in 50 years in a bid to revitalize the arts and preserve the nation’s literary history. The appointment is for three years. Morris has published several volumes of his own poetry and authored and edited a wide range of anthologies and essay collections. He most recently wrote a book about Louise Bennett-Coverley, a beloved Jamaican poet and folklorist who brought the island’s unique patois to the world. He is a retired literature professor at Jamaica’s campus of the University of the West Indies.

Attorney arrested

KINGSTON — Attorney Lennox Gayle, 45, a top official with the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel, was arrested following a raid at a massage parlor he reportedly owns. Police said he was charged with alleged violations of a sex offenses law. Investigators with the organized crime division allege Gayle operates a massage parlor in Montego Bay where prostitution took place. Seven women were arrested on prostitution charges following the raid at the business. Gayle was the lead panelist of the agency that recently ordered doping suspensions for Olympic sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherene Simpson.

cheo-feliciano_web.jpgPUERTO RICO

Hundreds at Feliciano wake

SAN JUAN — Panamanian salsa singer Ruben Blades was among several musicians who attended a wake Saturday at the Roberto Coliseum stadium in San Juan to honor Puerto Rico salsa great Cheo Feliciano. The two-day wake was followed by his burial Monday in his hometown of Ponce. Feliciano, 78, died in a car accident on April 17. Police said his car hit a light post in the northern suburb of Cupey and he was not wearing a seatbelt. His wife, Socorro “Coco” Prieto Leon, said he was coming back from a casino. Feliciano was a member of the Fania All Stars and one of the most recognized salsa singers.


Official sentenced

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Roberto Tapia, a former top environmental enforcement officer, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for using a government agency as a criminal enterprise. He was director of environmental enforcement for the Department of Planning & Natural Resources. He was arrested on drug trafficking charges last year by federal agents who conducted a surveillance operation. He was caught with 15 pounds of cocaine after a drug deal with two Puerto Rican men in waters off the islands. He pleaded guilty.