roger_clarke.jpgJAMAICA- Sugar boost

KINGSTON – The government has launched several infrastructure projects in sugar-producing communities to boost the struggling sugar industry.

Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke said the projects include 124 miles of roads this year and some 174 miles next year for farmers hauling cane. The government also has built affordable housing units and early childhood institutions. Some $110 million in aid is expected from the European Union for such projects. Roughly 128,000 tons of sugar is produced a year, down from an average 500,000 tons in previous years and a statement quotes Clarke as saying workers must improve their productivity.

Libel law overhaul
KINGSTON – The Press Association of Jamaica and the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) have applauded an overhaul of the libel and slander law which was based on a 17th century law from Britain and long criticized as an outdated colonial holdover. Media organizations complained for years that the difficulty and cost of fighting lawsuits, along with the risk of punishing judgments, stifled the press and freedom of expression. The IPI said Jamaica is now the first independent Caribbean nation to clear its books of criminal defamation laws and urged regional countries to follow Jamaica’s “courageous example,’’ according to a statement from Institute Director Alison Bethel.

HAITI – Violent protest
PORT-AU-PRINCE – An anti-government protest turned violent Nov. 7, with police firing tear gas and counter-demonstrators throwing stones at the marchers. People in civilian clothes were seen firing guns into the air. The march in Port-au-Prince began peacefully as the crowd grew to a few thousand people and passed through poor neighborhoods, many of them strongholds for critics of the government of President Michel Martelly. Once they went up the thoroughfare of Delmas, protesters were attacked by people who threw rocks from rooftops and alleyways. The demonstrators then made a rare trip to the hillside district of Petionville, where many shops and restaurants cater to wealthy Haitians. A few people were hurt by rocks but there were no immediate reports of major injuries. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country issued a statement asking the divided legislative and executive branches to agree on “priority political issues,” including elections.

Cayman Islands – Information sharing
GEORGE TOWN – Officials signed an agreement with the United Kingdom under which the British colony will automatically share information on bank accounts held by U.K. taxpayers. The territory is considered the world’s sixth largest financial center and a major haven for private equity. Premier Alden McLaughlin said the pact shows the colony’s support for a single global standard for financial information exchange. Earlier this year, the Cayman Islands said it reached a similar agreement with the U.S. to comply with a sweeping law designed to combat tax evasion.