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PDM Announces Plan to Stop the Sloops’; says PNP Gov’t is “clueless”

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By Deandrea Hamilton

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#TurksandCaicos, February 2, 2023 – For some, the Progressive National Party government has failed to contain the illegal migration problem.  To no one is this perspective more true than the People’s Democratic Movement which in a statement, hammered the government for inaction on stemming the flow of illegal boats from embattled Haiti and cited that now, there are a marked increase in human smuggling operations since the PNP took office.

“The PNP Government of the day seems to be clueless about how to tackle this problem. In the two years that they had come for the work, the country has seen no new plans, strategies, or methods for addressing the illegal movement of people, weapons, drugs, and contraband. On the contrary, we have seen an increase in illegal activities within our territorial waters,” said Edwin Astwood, Opposition Leader.

Over 500 Haitians have been caught so far in 2023 trying to enter the islands, illegally.  Police have confirmed that some illegal boats have been missed by the coastal radar and marine branch, which brings unknown dangers to the British overseas territory.

The overwhelming influx is fueled by people seeking relief from a toxic cocktail of widespread infections and deaths as a result of Cholera; the vacuum left by the expiration of term in office of all its democratically elected leaders; the high cost and scarcity of food and the take-over of murderous gangs across the nation.

Astwood said the remedy needs funding and his party has the right strategy.

“The PDM has been working on a very ambitious strategic plan for “Stopping the Sloops”. This plan has a clearly defined vision and mission, with achievable objectives. The strategy was developed with a new and innovative way of stopping and detecting illegal entry into the Turks and Caicos Islands. It employs a multisectoral multiagency approach using new and very promising tactics.”

No details of this plan is shared by Astwood, but he does give clues about where there is grave concern; he slams the PNP for leaving smaller islands unprotected. He likened them to a magnet for the unscrupulous captains who use the lanes and lands for their often ill-fated, always nefarious and irresistibly lucrative voyages.

“For our Family Islands and communities border protection and security are extremely low, or completely absent, hence they also act as alternative unmonitored landing sites for these illegal boats.

We the PDM have been studying in much detail every aspect of this issue of illegal boats. Our Plan will coordinate our intelligence, interception, processing, and enforcement systems. Through increases in the critical staffing areas; increase policing of our waters; use of technology, including sensors, radar, and aerial assets, investments to modernize the ports of entry, and stronger partnerships and information sharing, we the PDM desire to create a safer, more secure, and more efficient border environment of the entire Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Since the statement was issued on February 18, there has been no formal reply from the PNP Administration.  The issue of illegal migration once again proving to be politically polarizing and not severe enough a threat to elicit greater collaboration by the two parties for the good of the country, which is pumping millions of dollars into repatriation costs and bleeding even more dollars due to the social impacts resulting from the deepening crisis in Haiti.

“Protecting our borders from the illegal movement of weapons, drugs, contraband, and people, while promoting lawful entry and exit, is essential to our country, the Turks and Caicos Islands, security, economic prosperity, and national sovereignty.

A PDM government would be committed to enforcing our immigration laws so that we can secure our border and keep the TCI people safe. Our Strategy includes taking action to directly disrupt cartels, smugglers, and nefarious actors.

However, smugglers, human traffickers, and nefarious actors know our loopholes well and continue to exploit them. To truly keep the TCI people safe, we must end loopholes that have left us with policies that serve as tremendous magnets for illegal immigration.”

The plan is to stop the sloops.

“It consists both of a short-term and a long-term plan.

No doubt this Strategy will require budgetary support from Government funding, and New Visionary Leadership for execution and bringing the Plan to fruition. “A new and innovative plan will never be executed with an old and outdated way of thinking.”

The funding will be for acquiring the most suitable and most effective technologies for the purpose, the most suitable and most effective equipment for the activities, implementing the new methodologies, and most importantly employing the most suitable and skilled Turks and Caicos Islanders for organizing and executing the approach.”

There is a document and a vision said Edwin Astwood, who is a former minister of health of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We the Peoples’ Democratic Movement believe that the TCI should be free from having to face the consequences of illegal boats carrying people, guns, and illegal drugs reaching our shores. We are committed to securing our borders, and developing and enforcing effective immigration laws. We also believe that all of our people and residents have a right to feel safe and protected.

The mission statement of the PDM’s New and Innovative Plan outlines how we would achieve the vision. Our Objectives comprise the specific results that our new system aims to achieve in “stopping the boats”, within the specified timeframe stated.

The PDM’s plan needs the Haitian Government, said the Leader who is depending on a missing in action level of accountability from the Haitian government.  It is a murky, maybe even a doomed expectation as Haiti’s government is relatively non-existent.  Its last elected president – Jovenel Moise – was assassinated in July 2021 and its remaining democratically elected leaders demitted office in early January 2023.

“We need both countries to be in agreement to work together to address this expanding illegal immigration from Haiti, while at the same time promoting trade and commerce.

We the PDM believe that by working cooperatively, both governments will work to combat human smuggling and trafficking in the region, and support both countries in our efforts to combat crime and violence, by cutting off this funding mechanism. These efforts will build on existing bilateral agreements between the TCI and our neighboring countries and will reflect a shared commitment toward regional and hemispheric security.”

For Haiti, despite optimism when the United States and Canada agreed to ‘boots on the ground’ and military support, little had changed for the nation, home to 11 million people including some five million starving children. This month, both countries informed that while they are prepared to sanction alleged corrupt ex-leaders and provide a presence, no combat action is planned.

The PDM, meanwhile, has not said when they plan to release the strategy for public consumption.

“We the PDM have a new and Innovative Plan to protect You, to secure our borders, and to Stop the Illegal Boats. The Premier and his PNP government have No plan,” said Edwin Astwood in conclusion.

Caribbean News

Yellow Fever Outbreak in Region and Beyond, Travellers Warned

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

 

#YellowFever#Caribbean, April 10, 2024 – Reports say there is an outbreak of Yellow fever in the Caribbean according to the Department of Health and official government advice website, Travel Health Pro, and travelers are being warned to be vigilant. The authorities say the outbreak is also in parts of Africa, and Central and South America.

Guyana and Peru so far have seen two cases. Brazil reports the disease in monkeys, an indication that it is spreading across the ccounty. Colombia has seen 3 cases.

In South America, between January 1 and March 18 2024, there have been seven confirmed cases, four fatal.

Yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti (Linnaeus) and can cause potentially fatal hemorrhagic illness. Fortunately, it can be prevented with vaccination and so the World Health Organisation (WHO) is advising people ages nine months and older, traveling to the affected areas, to get vaccinated.

 

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Caribbean News

Four Year Old Beheaded Trinidad 

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

#Homicide#FourYearOld#TrinidadandTobago, April 9, 2024 – Trinidad was left in shock and sorrow with the beheading of a four year old girl, reportedly by her stepfather, early Tuesday April 9, at her home in Arouca, a town in the East-West Corridor of Trinidad and Tobago. The Police informed that when they arrived on the scene, the head of the little girl, identified as Amarah Lallitte, was in one room and her body in another.  

 

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Caribbean News

CariSECURE 2.0 Equipping Youth to Take Charge Against Crime

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Bridgetown, 9 April, 2024 – Amidst rising concerns over citizen security in the Caribbean, a deliberate effort is being made to empower the region’s youth to step into leadership roles and drive change from within. Through a free, online course by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), youth will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle pressing security challenges head-on.

The “Youth on the way to Peace and Security” course is being launched regionally as part of CariSECURE 2.0 (CS2.0), which works to reduce youth involvement in crime and trafficking in persons (TIP) in the region. It will run from 16 April – 3 May, with support from InfoSegura.

This course comes at a crucial time when security issues like crime and violence are on the rise in the Caribbean. By the end of the course, participants will have improved understanding of regional security challenges, enhanced leadership skills, and greater opportunity to network with peers and experts around the region, empowering them to take leadership roles in regional conversations and citizen security activities.

Maia Hibben, Project Manager for CariSECURE 2.0, underscored the significance of engaging young people in matters of citizen security.  ” Throughout the life of our project, input from young people has been invaluable,” she said. “Whether it be helping to craft national workplans to reduce crime, developing a roadmap for youth empowerment in the Caribbean, or creating digital solutions to improve crime reporting as planned for this year, youth have proven that their perspectives are indispensable. This course is just another way for youth to strengthen their skills to address regional security challenges.”

By building capacity of young leaders to address security challenges and promote social cohesion, the course contributes directly to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16, towards Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

The course will offer lessons in the current mechanisms that impact youth decision making, insight into youth citizen security challenges in the Caribbean, and give practical guidance on the positive roles participants can play in conflict resolution, with complementary webinars, podcasts and practical resources tailored to the English-speaking Caribbean. It is free of charge and open to participants from all backgrounds, regardless of age, nationality, or level of experience. A certificate will be awarded upon completion.

Register for the course by 15 April: escuelavirtualpnud.org/login/index.php?lang=en

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