U.S. State Department Recommends Rescinding Cuba’s Designation As A State Sponsor of Terrorism

The following press release must be studied carefully by all; especially Caribbeans. Great import may be given to this moment in future times.

Press Statement

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Washington, DC

April 14, 2015

In December 2014, as a critical component of establishing a new direction for U.S.–Cuba relations, the President directed the State Department to launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and provide a report to him within six months. Last week, the State Department submitted a report to the White House recommending, based on the facts and the statutory standard, that President Obama rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

This recommendation reflects the Department’s assessment that Cuba meets the criteria established by Congress for rescission. While the United States has had, and continues to have, significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these concerns and disagreements fall outside of the criteria for designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. This review focused on the narrow questions of whether Cuba provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six months, and whether Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future, consistent with the statutory standard for rescission.

Circumstances have changed since 1982, when Cuba was originally designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism because of its efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America. Our Hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago. Our determination, pursuant to the facts, including corroborative assurances received from the Government of Cuba and the statutory standard, is that the time has come to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

U.S. Assistance to Haiti Overview: 2010-2015 (Dec. 2014)

Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
December 29, 2014

Five years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti has transitioned to a period of long-term development. With the help of the international community, Haiti has made significant advances. The U.S. post-earthquake strategy for Haiti focuses on four sector pillars designed to catalyze economic growth and build long-term stability. Carried out by a range of U.S. departments and agencies, including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others, the strategy is designed to be flexible to maximize areas of success and adjust to new challenges. U.S. assistance to Haiti is having a measurable impact in Haiti’s transition: 328,000 earthquake-displaced Haitians were sheltered; 70,000 Haitian farmers are enjoying increased crop yields and higher incomes; 3,300 new Haitian National Police officers were trained and commissioned; some 5,000 jobs were created so far at the Caracol Industrial Park with more projected as the facility expands, and; almost half of all Haitians can access basic health services U.S.-supported facilities. Much more remains to be done, and the country’s reconstruction and development will continue for many years. The following highlights key accomplishments to date in each of the four pillars of U.S. assistance, outlines course adjustments made, and provides an overview of total U.S. post-earthquake funding to Haiti.

Pillar A: Infrastructure and Energy

Key Achievements:
  • Housed more than 328,000 earthquake-displaced Haitians by providing transitional shelters, repairs to damaged homes, support to host families, and rental vouchers.
  • Constructed more than 900 permanent new homes to date.
  • Removed 2.7 million cubic meters of removable earthquake rubble – 36 percent of the estimated 7.4 million cubic meters removed.
  • Rehabilitated and upgraded five electrical substations in Port-au-Prince.
  • Converted cookstoves for 61,000 businesses and households from charcoal to clean liquefied natural gas.
  • Constructed a 10 megawatt power plant servicing the Caracol Industrial Park and 7,000 local households and businesses.

Adjustments:

  • From the beginning, private sector involvement was required to supplement the U.S. government efforts to expand port services in the north. However, after considerable due diligence it was determined that private-sector interest for a new port venture in Haiti’s north is not sufficient at this time. Consequently, the U.S. government is providing assistance to the Government of Haiti to renovate and expand port facilities at the existing Cap-Haïtien port that will accommodate a larger volume of containers and increase economic activity in northern Haiti.
  • During implementation of the new settlements program, impediments surfaced to realizing significant new housing construction plans. This led to a shift in permanent shelter programming that emphasizes more innovative ways to help Haitians build homes and communities on their own. The new approach targets a greater role for private sector developers to improve and expand the housing stock, and includes housing finance opportunities for low-income Haitians, neighbourhood upgrades, and support to help Haitians transition select temporary facilities into safe permanent communities.

Pillar B: Food and Economic Security

Key Achievements:

  • More than 70,000 farmers have increased their crop yields and incomes through use of better seeds, improved farming techniques, and better access to markets.
  • Approximately 33,000 hectares are under improved watershed management and five million seedlings were planted.
  • Fed 400,000 Haitians rendered vulnerable due to tropical storms and drought conditions in 2013.
  • Launched innovative “e-vouchers” in some of Haiti’s poorest areas to improve access to locally produced food through this electronic food voucher safety net.
  • Supported the creation to date of nearly 5,000 jobs in Haiti’s underdeveloped northern region by partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Government of Haiti and the private sector in the development of the Caracol Industrial Park.
  • Provided more than 54,000 agricultural loans and extended approximately $57 million in loan guarantees to the banking system to facilitate easier access to credit for small and medium enterprises.
  • Expanded the use of mobile money making banking services through cells phone possible for the first time for many.

Adjustment:

  • In 2014, approximately $13 million was provided to assist more than 200,000 Haitians impacted by drought conditions in the Northwest Department and in La Gonaïve Island. Services included agricultural support, food vouchers, and short-term work programs.

Pillar C: Health and Other Basic Services

Key Achievements:

  • Nearly half of all Haitians have access to basic health services at U.S.- supported health facilities.
  • Approximately $1 billion is being invested over five years (2011-2016) by the United States on essential healthcare services in Haiti.
  • The U.S.-supported national measles, rubella, and polio immunization campaign has reached over 90 percent coverage.
  • Supported the reconstruction of Haiti’s University Hospital and other damaged health facilities.
  • Through PEPFAR, HIV/AIDS indicators have dramatically improved over the last decade. In 2014 alone, 900,000 Haitians were tested for HIV and more than 62,000 received life-saving treatment.
  • U.S. support for cholera treatment and prevention as well as assistance for clean water and sanitation is helping to dramatically lower the number of new cholera cases; in November 2014 the Haitian Ministry of Health reported cholera incidence rates down 97 percent since 2011.
  • U.S. support is advancing efforts to eliminate malaria and lymphatic filariasis from Haiti.
  • More than 600 semi-permanent furnished classrooms were constructed after the earthquake, enabling more than 60,000 children to return to school.
  • An early-grade reading program is improving the reading skills of more than 28,000 children, and efforts are underway to expand the program to reach more than a million children.

Adjustment:

  • The outbreak of cholera in Haiti in 2010 prompted a swift U.S. response to this public health emergency. $95 million was allocated for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. To ensure sustained focus on this disease, the U.S. government is helping Haiti to integrate cholera services into existing treatment and prevention platforms of other deadly diarrheal diseases.

Pillar D: Governance and Rule of Law

Key Achievements:

  • Supported the training of 3,300 new Haitian National Police (HNP) officers in support of the Government of Haiti’s goal to reach 15,000 officers by the end of 2016.
  • Deployed 110 United Nations Police (UNPOL) to advise and mentor the HNP; the current U.S. contingent of UNPOLs is 82.
  • With the New York City Police Department, provided training to a new HNP community policing unit, which doubled in size to 80 officers and operates in several Port-au-Prince neighbourhoods.
  • In partnership with the Miami-Dade Police Department, trained and equipped the HNP counter-narcotics unit (BLTS), growing it from about 40 to 197 officers and adding a 20-dog K-9 unit.
  • Helped HNP to improve administrative, logistics, management, and oversight capabilities.
  • Completed construction of six police stations and the presidential security unit barracks.
  • Deployed an electronic financial management system that 35 government offices are using to enhance accountability and transparency of revenue and expenditure.
  • Provided technical assistance to process 4,000 cases of prolonged pre-trial detention, including the release of some 1,000 detainees who had already served their sentences.
  • Provided expertise and training to Parliament to draft, debate and pass priority legislation on anti-money laundering, international adoption procedures, and anti-trafficking in persons.
  • Established Haiti’s first electronic judicial case management information system in Saint-Marc that allows the judiciary to track cases from arrival in the prosecutor’s office to court adjudication.
  • Helped reconstruct more than 30,000 case files damaged or destroyed in the earthquake.
  • Began construction of three correctional facilities to help alleviate overcrowding and improve conditions in Haiti’s prisons.
  • Raised awareness of and helped reduce gender-based violence (GBV) by providing cross training to police and justice officials and strengthening capacity and referral networks of civil society partners providing GBV prevention and response services. Supported anti-GBV public messaging and referral services to victims for testing and counselling.

Adjustments:

  • The holding of delayed parliamentary and local elections is important for Haiti’s democratic development and to advance progress made in reconstruction and development. The United States advocates for timely free and fair elections in Haiti.

U.S. Government Haiti Post-Earthquake Funding*
As of September 30, 2014

Available Funding Obligations Disbursements % Disbursed
Humanitarian Relief Assistance $1.3 billion $1.3 billion $1.3 billion 100%
Recovery,Reconstruction &Development $2.7 billion $2.2 billion $1.8 billion 66%
TOTAL $4 billion $3.5 billion $3.1 billion 77%

*Totals might not add up precisely due to rounding

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USA Press Statement on Japanese Emperor’s Birthday

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I would like to send warm wishes to His Imperial Majesty on his 81st birthday this December 23 and congratulate Japan on this national day of celebration.

As I have mentioned in my many meetings with Foreign Minister Kishida, and as President Obama reiterated when he spoke with Prime Minister Abe last week, the United States-Japan Alliance has long been the cornerstone of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Based on our shared values and interests, Japan and the United States have forged an effective global partnership. We are grateful for Japan’s efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, advance women’s empowerment, promote sustainable economic development, respond generously to global challenges, and reinforce the rule of law throughout the world. The United States looks forward to continued cooperation with Japan in the years ahead.

We wish all Japanese people around the world peace and prosperity over the coming year.

Tunisia’s Presidential Election

 

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

December 22, 2014

On behalf of the government and people of the United States, I would like to congratulate President-elect Beji Caid Essebsi on his victory and the Tunisian people on the successful completion of their process to elect a new government under the constitution adopted last January. Tunisia has provided a shining example to the region and the world of what can be achieved through dedication to democracy, consensus, and an inclusive political process. I would also like to offer my congratulations to the Independent Election Commission, which successfully managed a very complex and challenging process this year to democratically elect a parliament and president.

Tunisia’s achievements this year lay the groundwork for a more stable, prosperous, and democratic future for the country. I look forward to working with President-elect Caid Essebsi and Tunisia’s new parliament and government to strengthen and expand our countries’ enduring friendship and strategic partnership. The United States will continue to support Tunisia as it joins the ranks of the world’s democracies, and we call on other members of the international community to do the same.

New Postal Stamps – Gardens of Barbados

Barbados Postal Service Logo

Attention all stamp collectors! The Barbados Postal Service (BPS) recently announced the release of new commemorative stamps entitled ‘Gardens of Barbados’. The newly issued stamps can be found in the following denominations:

  • 10c Gardenia
  • 65c Hunte’s
  • $2.20 Glendale
  • $2.20 Eusteen

Included are:

  • $5.50 First Day Cover
  • $4.00 Souvenir Sheet
  • $4.75 Souvenir Sheet First Day Cover

These may be bought or ordered from the Philatelic Bureau, General Post Office, Bridgetown, as well as the BPS

website www.bps.gov.bb. Note well this offer is valid for one year commencing the date of issue.

Press Release St. Lucia – The Office of The Prime Minister

Prime-Minister-official-photo

PRESS RELEASE

167/14
For Immediate Release
December 19, 2014

PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR BIPARTISAN APPROACH TO HEALTH CARE FINANCING

The Millennium Heights Medical Complex Bill came up for its second reading in the House of Assembly this week, the final sitting of this session for the calendar year 2014. Introduced by Member for Babonneau and Minister of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, Hon. Alvina Reynolds, the bill speaks to the establishment of a Board to direct the affairs of the complex, soon to be established at Coubaril.

The complex includes the newly named Owen King EU Hospital, the Mental Wellness Centre and the Turning Point Rehabilitation Centre. Funded by the European Union at a cost of $189 million, the project represents the biggest investment ever undertaken by that agency.

Member of Parliament for Vieux Fort South, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, spoke in support of the bill. Whereas the bill does not address health care financing, Dr. Anthony said that the time has perhaps come to look more closely at the cost of medical services on the island.

The Prime Minister insisted that Universal Health Care must be implemented in order to guarantee every citizen access to a basket of health services. He went on to suggest a joint approach to what he acknowledged as a difficult and long-standing problem. Dr. Anthony said:

“You know the greatest gift we can give to the people of Saint Lucia is [to] get together and arrive at a common position on financing health care. If we say we love the people of Saint Lucia, that is the greatest gift we can give to them. If you see the two of us can get together, sit down, look at this issue of health care financing, the people of Saint Lucia will have extraordinary confidence, not just in our integrity, not just in the promise that we all care for them, but they can believe in a political system that can work better. We would neutralize the issue and make it a non-issue for the political platforms.

“I want to plant a little seed, Mr. Speaker, in all sincerity to the Opposition. One of the things I think we should do very seriously is to set up a joint committee of Parliament to look at this issue of health care financing. The Opposition talks very glibly of making health care VAT-free.

“The question is, how are you going to finance the $40 million you need to guarantee persons treatment at our hospitals? Where are you going to get the $40 million from? That is the question we have to face.

“How do we bring an end to the embarrassment and humiliation that Saint Lucians face on a continuous basis when we have to go and beg Martinique to take care of our people, or these days, as I have just had to do in Cuba, beg Cuba to take care of our Saint Lucian patients at reduced cost? When do we bring an end to it? When do we bring an end to that issue?

“Can we therefore agree that we can set up a joint parliamentary group to look at this issue of financing health care so that we can together say to the people of Saint Lucia that we have a problem on our hands? We don’t want to fight about it. We know it’s an issue. We now have the institutions to take care of our people, but we but we still have to decide how [we] are going to pay for it.”

Prime Minister Anthony said in the House of Assembly that he would be writing to the Opposition with a proposal to initiate the process of engagement.

Completion of the medical complex is one of several positive moves accomplished by the present administration with regard to the health sector. In the last three years, Government has completed and reopened the Dennery Hospital, extended the Gros Islet Polyclinic and refurbished ten Health Centres. Support has continued for training of health care professionals, and implementation of a comprehensive national health information system has revolutionized the speed and efficiency with which health care facilities are able to deliver their services.

The commissioning of the new National Health Complex will take place sometime in 2015.