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Diaspora Conference Takes Centre Stage June 13 To 18 In Mo-Bay

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KINGSTON, April 27 (JIS): BY: ELAINE HARTMAN RECKORD
Members of the Diaspora and Jamaicans at home will gather at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St. James, from June 13 to 18, to participate in the sixth staging of the Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference.
Activities will include a business and cultural exposition, a range of meetings to address investment opportunities and social activities, culminating with a Diaspora Day of Service.
The forum is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, in collaboration with the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation, the Jamaica Diaspora Institute, the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board Members, key community persons and Diaspora community groups, under the theme: ‘Jamaica and the Diaspora: Linking for Growth and Prosperity’.
This year, the conference promises to be bigger and better, with the organisers anticipating a robust turnout of Diaspora members.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade,
Hon. Arnaldo Brown, tells JIS News that the last staging saw a record number of diaspora members in attendance. He is hoping the number will increase in 2015.
“Our intent is to have 1,000 local participants and hopefully, we will have an equal number from the Diaspora in attendance at the conference,” he says.
Since its inception in 2004, the event has grown, and in 2013 more than 1,500 participants attended the conference.

He notes that efforts are being made to increase the turnout through the deliberate targeting of the Diaspora outside of the traditional areas of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada.
Since the conference was officially launched in February 2015 by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, Mr. Brown says several others have been held to promote it overseas, noting that the first international launch was held at the St. George’s Episcopal Church, in New York, last month.

“Consequent upon the New York launch, we launched in Canada from the 12th of April to the 19th of April. There were launches in Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and all launch events have gone fairly well,” he adds.
Other Diaspora launches include Grand Cayman and Florida. The launch in Florida will take place at a community forum on Thursday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Miramar City Hall, 2300 Civic Center Drive, Miramar.
Mr. Brown is urging Jamaicans who wish to attend the conference to register now and take advantage of the early bird rates. The official conference hotel is the Rose Hall Hilton Hotel and attendees are being encouraged to log on to: www.jamaicandiaspora.gov.jm for early registration and further details. He is also reminding Jamaicans in the Diaspora who have difficulty registering online to get in touch with the nearest Consulate or Mission in their area to get the form completed.

“I am encouraging persons to book their tickets and to make their reservations early. Reservations can be made online and if there is a difficulty registering online, then get to your nearest Consulate or Mission,” he advises.

The State Minister says Jamaicans can also register to share their skills and resources in projects in communities in Jamaica while at the conference.

“So, any Jamaican who is interested, whether here or overseas, there is an outlet for persons to sign up and to be on the programme of activities,” he notes.

Mr. Brown says a report on the achievements from Conference 2013 and highlights of Conference 2015 and some of its expected outcomes will be presented to participants on day two of the conference.
“We will present a report card on the successes that we have had, implementation that have taken place and our view is that persons will be satisfied that significant work has taken place during the period between conference 2013 and conference 2015,” he tells JIS News.

“We are positing the conference as a global forum for Jamaicans worldwide to be actively engaged,” he says, adding that a report will also be presented on the Diaspora Mapping Project, an online survey which seeks to identify the locations, skills, expertise and interests of members of the global Jamaican Diaspora.

Additionally, he notes that there will be a report on the Diaspora Policy, along with the International Migration and Development Policy.

“We hope that the Diaspora Policy will be at the Green Paper stage by the time we get to conference. Work is now being done,” he says.

Mr. Brown explains that organisers are seeking to build on the successes of the 2013 conference and will be placing much emphasis on social development and trade and investment. A feature called, Marketplace, which was introduced at the last conference, will be expanded this year. It will feature a range of local businesses and brands from various sectors, including business matching meetings, transactions and networking and Jamaican cultural presentations and other entertainment.

“A number of features were introduced in that conference. Marketplace was introduced and the matchmaking session. We are introducing it again, but with a twist. There is also going to be the Marketplace Live. There are 70 slots that are available for companies, whether in Jamaica or overseas, that are interested in displaying their wares,” he states.

The six-day programme will also feature a Government at Your Service ‘One Stop Shop’ which is a collaboration of public sector agencies offering attendees fast-tracked Government services.

“We are going to have a golf tournament. We are going to have two church services, which is a first, on Saturday and on Sunday, marking the start of the Diaspora Week,” he says.

In addition, he notes that another event; ‘the Diaspora Day of Service’, has been significantly broadened in scope in an effort to encourage civic-minded Jamaicans to participate in outreach activities.

“Members of the Diaspora will be able to go out into the different communities and undertake projects that are of interest to them in the communities, in and around the conference site, and even wider if they so desire,” he adds.

A Power Breakfast will also be included, where decision-makers, whether from the public and public sector, will get a chance to meet and discuss projects that can be implemented or explore opportunities that are available.
Mr. Brown says there will also be a special symposium on Immigration and Deportation, with the aim of developing an action plan to sensitise persons who have immigration issues and “to look at how we deal with the reintegration of persons who have been deported or persons who lived away from Jamaica for a period of time.”
Additionally, he notes that there will be discussions on the role of the church and Faith based groups in Diaspora development and engagement. He says many persons who migrate continue their church tradition and can be found in various churches across the length and breadth of the Diaspora.

“We trust that the participants will be fully engaged and that they will leave feeling that they have spent a worthwhile time in Jamaica. We expect that at the end of the conference, there will be an action plan and a move towards implementation,”
Mr. Brown says.

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Cuban Nationals Apprehended in Bahamian waters

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#TheBahamas, June 24, 2021 – A group of Cuban Nationals are currently being detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Center after they were apprehended in the south west Bahamas by a US Coast Guard vessel earlier this week.

The fifteen individuals were captured after being sighted on Anguilla Cay on Tuesday 22 June. They were taken aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter, CHARLES SEXTON, and handed over shortly after 7:00 pm to the Defence Force patrol craft, HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES, under the command of Senior Lieutenant Jataro McDonald.

The Cubans were subsequently brought into the capital early Thursday morning, where they were handed over to the relevant authorities. The Cuban Embassy has since been notified. 

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force continues to maintain a vigilant presence while patrolling and protecting the territorial waters of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and working with other law enforcement agencies.

Photos shows: Cuban nationals shortly after their arrival at the Defence Force Base, Coral Harbour on Thursday June 24, 2021. (RBDF Photo by Petty Officer Al Rahming)

 (For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and view our Youtube channel)

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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS GOVERNOR ASKS FLORIDA COUNTERPART TO CONSIDER VACCINATION CHECKS FOR CRUISE PASSENGERS

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Governor Albert Bryan Jr. cites concerns around unvaccinated cruise passengers arriving in the Caribbean

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (June 11, 2021) – Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands Albert Bryan Jr. has made a plea to his Florida colleague, Governor Ron DeSantis, to honor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and reconsider the state’s legislation, which could impact the health and wellbeing of millions of Caribbean residents when cruises to the region resume.
As increasing numbers of Americans receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Governor Bryan believes that ensuring the cruise industry reopens with vaccinated passengers is essential to the tourism economies of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean.
Congratulating the Florida governor for his commitment to health, civil liberties and economic revitalization, Governor Bryan called for an exception – one that would enable vaccination checks for outbound passengers on cruise ships, which do most of their business on the open seas and directly impact the multiple Caribbean islands they visit.

“The bill you signed into law (which goes into effect July 1, 2021) may negatively impact the United States Virgin Islands and other port of call destinations in the Caribbean region,” said Governor Bryan, who highlighted CDC approvals for cruise ships to begin sailing this summer from U.S. ports with strict health and safety guidelines, such as the vaccination of 95% of passengers and crew members

With Florida serving as the nucleus and biggest embarkation point for cruises in the United States that dock in the U.S. Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, the Governor indicated that “our ports … are in direct line of fire,” adding that while the two hospitals in the U.S. Virgin Islands are equipped to care for the Territory’s residents, they lack the resources to address a potentially larger public health crisis. “The lack of infrastructure puts us at a disadvantage for any crisis – health or mother nature. This is true of not only the Virgin Islands but most of the countries in the region,” the Governor penned.
With this reality, the governor expressed his concern for all citizens in the Caribbean region: “This is why I implore you to reconsider with a lens to the negative impact that your legislation may have on residents in the Caribbean … the cruise line and tourism employees, many of whom are of Caribbean descent, are now almost fully vaccinated and ready to get back to work.” 

“Please consider the exemption proposed above so … Caribbean (destinations) can feel safe on arrival and disembarkation of cruise passengers and crew. This will be a big win for the people of the Caribbean and the Caribbean expatriates that live in your state. It is my hope that you can assist us in moving in the same direction while respecting regional health liberties,” he affirmed. Governor Bryan has also shared a communiqué with the leadership of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) inviting support from regional leaders to work with the USVI in finding an agreeable path forward to welcoming cruise ships and their passengers back to the islands in as safe a way as possible.
About the U.S. Virgin IslandsFor more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI). When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel – including on-line check-in – making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.

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Turquoise Gold; how TCI’s slice of the Atlantic Ocean does more than boost Tourism

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#TurksandCaicos, May 18, 2021 – Dig ten feet down and you will find turquoise gold!  Hidden in the porous limestone bedrock of Providenciales is same stuff which has rocketed Turks and Caicos Islands to superstar status when it comes to luxury tourism.  It may surprise Provo residents that the enveloping commodity and pristine natural resource serves another practical purpose; it is the same safe, tasty, reliable drinking water flowing from our taps.

Turks and Caicos’ slice of the Atlantic Ocean is also the life sustaining water used to clean, cook, drink and grow gardens thanks to Provo Water Company, which has been supplying city water since 1997.

As the company commemorated its 10th year of Drinking Water Week, executives agreed to a throw-back to a decade ago with Magnetic Media and it is a refreshing story.

“Ten years ago we had probably 120 miles of pipeline, currently we have 136 miles and there is additional pipeline scheduled for the next two to three years in various areas. Communities like Five Cays, Blue Hills, Chalk Sound – just about everywhere and that is just additional pipeline that we’re putting in to make sure we can connect new customers,” said Robert C. Hall, the personable Managing Director of Provo Water Company.

Mr. Hall, during the interview, often referenced the company’s 20-year development plan; a plan which embraces the liberties of being wholly, a privately owned company. 

Just under a decade ago, Provo Water Company bought the Turks and Caicos Islands government’s 46 per cent stake in the water company for a reported $7.5 million; today it is a healthy set-up which in 2018 peaked at distribution of two million gallons of water in a single day.   

“We are looking at how we are going to supply the islands for the next 20 years and the major component of that plan is a second water plant on the northwest side of the island,” explained Mr. Hall at the Provo Water Company’s accredited laboratory overlooking western Leeward Highway. 

The 20 year plan obviously does more than look at expansion, it also considers contingency.

“The objective is to be able to supply the island from either director if that need arises.  So if we had a catastrophe in Grace Bay, we would be able to supply the island from northwest end and vice versa,” said Mr. Hall, who is an engineer by profession.

Ten years ago there were 3,500 consumers in the system; today there are 5,500 and technology is helping to manage these customers in Providenciales.  Provo Water Company does not tally per recipient of the service; they count their consumers by how many subscribers are signed onto the service.  Which means, there are far more households and businesses than reflected in 2021cumulative customer figure.

“We are able to produce just under four million gallons of water per day.  Currently we are using about – in this particular time – 1.1 to 1.2 million gallons per day.  So we’ve got built in capacity obviously to accommodate any growth in the short to medium term.”

Reverse osmosis of the salty ocean water is the process used to transform our turquoise gold into nourishing, drinking water; a process which requires its own story.  Suffice it to say, what is produced by source and sister company: Turks and Caicos Water, would be meaningless if there was nowhere to store it.

Right now, there are 2.5 million gallons stored at the plant in Grace Bay.  Another one million gallons is held at the storage tank near FortisTCI, the electricity supplier, off Leeward Highway.

“We are currently the owners of the land on the roundabout near CIBC, and there are some additional storage and pumping facilities that will be built there very shortly; we are hoping to start that this year. So that is a part of the project of trying to get water to and from both ends of the island.

We always have to be ahead of the curve, because the demand will always be there and the capacity to supply that demand has to always be ahead.”

In our series, we explore more advancements in the past ten years; including the biggest splash for Provo Water Company:  the introduction of artificial intelligence and technology.

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