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PDM Opposition Leader calls for no fear in the stride for Self Determination on JAGS Day

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 6, 2022 – “We should not be afraid of self-determination” was the message from the nephew of J.A.G.S McCartney, Edwin Astwood, leader of the People’s Democratic Movement as he spoke at the wreath laying ceremony in honour of the national hero held Monday May 31.

The Opposition Leader did not mince words as he called for a reassessment of the TCIs Governance structure.

“England is our mother country but the Turks and Caicos Islands have grown up, you may not believe it but it is about time for us to prepare to branch out on our own.”

Astwood argued that there were models in the Caribbean region from other countries that showed the wrong and right way to go about independence and could be applied to the tci setting.

Astwood went ahead and outlined a plan to get the islands ready for independence. This plan included strengthening the institution for good governance, creating systems to assure peaceful transfers of power after general elections and committing to enhancing food security, national security and safety. After this, Astwood said, then a referendum could be put to the people to have them decide if they should stay with the monarchy or not.

“I am hereby proposing that we develop those milestones and then seek permission for a referendum,” he said.  Astwood then criticised the current system of government in which the UK could deny the islands a referendum as well as ‘loyalists’ who he said did not believe that the Turks and Caicos could stand on their own saying that the islands could not use the excuse that they were ‘not ready’ forever.  He argued that not only should membership in the United Kingdom be voluntary but the Turks and Caicos should be partners rather than ‘loyal subjects’.

“I wholeheartedly believe that the United Kingdom should be a voluntary association of nations on the basis of mutual cooperation and respect. The Turks and Caicos’s future is a matter for the people of the TCI and it would be fundamentally wrong to deny us the right to a referendum.”  He said, “Over the years we have built a multi-cultural society.”

He addressed the Governor and Queen’s representative in the Turks and Caicos directly urging Nigel Dakin to use the time he had left with the TCI, to advance meaningful discussions between countries while protecting both the UK and TCI interests.

A united country is what Astwood asked for as he addressed the sitting premier, Washington Misick, directly, “Yes we are on different parties but we’re on one team and that team is team TCI.”

Astwood urged islanders and the government to assess the areas in which the country had progressed and regressed in the last 42 years since J.A.G.S. McCartney’s death and maintained that the islands must ‘look ahead’ to important issues of the future including  citizenship, land, home and business ownership, diversity of educational opportunities, natural security and the preservation of the environment.

Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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