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Social Media, Access to Guns & Lack of Focus on Young Men are accelerants to Crime says Jamaica’s Andrew Holness



By Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


#TrinidadandTobago, April 21, 2023 – Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica at the CARICOM Regional Symposium on crime said there is a “huge deficit presently in the architecture of our state, to treat with Crime and Violence, from a legislative point of view, from a law enforcement point of view and from a social intervention point of view.

During the panel discussion, he explained that the state must address how it will go about reformation to deal with the evolving problem of Crime and Violence to which he identified two “new accelerants,” the easy access to lethal weapons for citizens, particularly guns, and the evolution of social media; “the dissemination of information, that could influence or give insight to the use of violence.”

Holness stated that the epidemic of Crime and Violence has been exacerbated by the uncontrolled influx of illegal firearms, “small arms and light weapons.”

He hinted at the irony of how easy it is for criminals to obtain illegal guns despite the fact that they are not manufactured in our region.

For reference, statistics from Jamaica can be used. He revealed that in the last 10 decades, a total of 8,036 guns were seized and 12,641 Jamaican citizens were killed by illegal firearms.

Additionally, in his speech, the Jamaican Prime Minister highlighted that the last few decades have seen a rise in crime and the use of fatal weapons, further stating that the nature of violence has changed for which the region’s Law Enforcement, Justice System, Public Health Systems and Education and Social Intervention Systems are not prepared to handle, hinting to the lack of agility in the system to handle Crime.

In comparing the effects of Crime and Violence to diseases, Holness revealed that in Jamaica it is among the 10 causes for seeking medical attention and a leading cause of deaths.

During his address, leader of the largest English speaking country in the Caribbean repeatedly characterised Crime and Violence as threats to the Caribbean state, undermining its ability to deliver services as well as weakening citizens’ confidence in it for protection.

Not only that, he points to the fact that it threatens the region’s brand for tourism, “a safe place to visit.”

It is for these reasons and more importantly the continuous loss of lives of Caribbean people why Holness, who became Jamaica’s youngest elected prime minister in 2016, urged the region to make the necessary changes.

The Caribbean jurisprudence as he stated, was not designed to deal with Crime of this nature and magnitude and so legislative  reform is required. He says the region is trapped in an “inherited archaic” system from which a break is needed in order to create our own laws to deal with our own problems.

And, he strongly expressed that there needs to be political consensus in the region on how to address Crime and Violence, separate from the competitive political space, to aid in long-term solutions.

He further maintained that the war on guns must be as strong as the war on drugs if the region is going to see progress.

In addition to that, he says the region should invest more time into preventing illegal substances from getting to other countries and not enough time on preventing guns from coming into “our countries.”

Prime Minister Holness also called on the region to put their “money where our threats lie,” and that the Governments should consider increasing investments on National Security.

Important points were also made regarding the reform of the education system and social services and to put more focus on Caribbean young males, according to Public Health evidence, as males are more prone to be involved in violence and make up most of the Criminal population according to statistics (90 percent of young males are perpetrators and victims).

To this, Holness expressed that something is wrong with the socialization of Caribbean males to which Public policy must fashion an urgent response.

Ahead of the Jamaican Prime Minister’s presentation at the Regional Symposium: Violence as a Public Health Issue – The Crime Challenge held at the Hyatt Regency, Trinidad was an opening session statement by his Commission of Police, Antony Anderson of Jamaica.

Caribbean News







April 17, 2024, Montego Bay, Jamaica –  In an intimate ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating Sandals Resorts’ entry into the largely undiscovered destination of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the only Caribbean born superbrand welcomed its first guests to a nature-forward experience brimming with island inspiration and stirring ‘Sandals Firsts’.

Witnessed by government officials, Sandals executives, guests and resort team members, an emerald green ribbon, representative of the island’s flag and lush surroundings, was cut signaling the official opening of Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International Adam Stewart, spoke on what the opening of the hotel chain’s 18th resort meant for the brand, the island and the Caribbean at large. “This is a multi-generational act in the making that began with my extraordinary father Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and Prime Minister Gonsalves many years ago. They flirted heavily about flying the Vincy flag not only here but in all the other islands across the Caribbean that Sandals has its operations. Little did we know that 43 years later the Sandals brand would grow from one 99-room hotel in Montego Bay to a top 500 brand known on the world stage as a super brand. The only Caribbean born commercial super brand known across the United States, Europe and Canada with over 84% brand penetration and recognition,” he shared.

He expounded further on what he dubbed the Sandals Effect, a confluence of things that happen when Sandals comes to town.  “First and foremost, we market the destination, both St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The landscape that makes up this incredible archipelago will benefit. Directly and indirectly for linkages, tour operators, taxi operators, restaurateurs, musicians, farmers, fishers, entrepreneurs, hardware store operators, the entire ecosystem and connectivity we plan to make sure that the entire world knows.”

With Sandals’ expansion to the island, airlift has increased exponentially with more availability on the horizon.  According to Adam Stewart, numerous airlines have adjusted their schedules in anticipation for the demand. “American Airlines used to fly twice per week to and from the Argyle Airport, since April the airline has increase to four times per week and is expected to have daily flights by the end of 2024. Air Canada and Virgin have increased their airlift with JetBlue and United Airlines now flying to the island for the first time.  Nationals and visitors will have the opportunity to fly more conveniently and we will continue to grow. ,” expressed Stewart.

The resort, in May 2024, is expected to host some 300 top travel advisors from around the world, the largest contingent of international travel professionals to ever visit Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Dr. The Honourable, Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in his main address added further credence to the impact Sandals has on his country and the CARICOM community. “During COVID, unemployment went up, there was a decline in economic activity in the region. At the time we also had volcanic eruptions, Sandals came to us with a proposal to recruit Vincentians and send them to their resorts across the Caribbean to be trained. We had to evacuate 20,000 persons with some in shelters for four to six months. Along came a friend in Sandals who said they could ease some of the pressure providing opportunities for 500 people and these little things talk to me about partnership. This might have been small for Sandals but it was a huge thing for us in the condition in which we found ourselves and I want to thank Sandals and Adam.”

“It is an understatement really to call Sandals a brand. It has become an existential part of our Caribbean civilization. This civilization is tailor-made for tourism and Butch Stewart has helped to shape this aspect of the material to help sustain us. I think that when the history of the 20th into the 21st century is written, there would be a towering place for this legend,” The Hon. Gonsalves continued.

In honour of the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Prime Gonsalves in opining that the relationship he enjoyed with the late founder made him “one of us” shared a remarkable plan to celebrate his memory and contributions to tourism and economic development in the region. “The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had indicated to Sandals that we will build the road coming to the entrance of the hotel. Having built it, we will call it the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart Boulevard,” the Prime Minister announced proudly to stirring applause from the audience.

Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines offers 301 rooms and suites across 50 lush-laden acres, authentically embracing its Saint Vincent location with an experience that is as thoughtful as it is meticulously local.

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Caribbean News

Foreign Minister Provides Update on Transitional Presidential Council for Haiti



#Kingston, Jamaica, April 17, 2024 – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, says significant progress has been made with the publishing of names of the members of the Transitional Presidential Council for Haiti.

The names of the members were published on April 16 in the Le Moniteur. Haiti has been experiencing a humanitarian, security, socio-economic and political crisis.

Establishment of the Transitional Presidential Council for Haiti was the landmark outcome following a high-level meeting of regional Heads, international partners, and Haitian stakeholders on Haiti, on March 11, which paves the way for a peaceful transition of power and the road to free and fair elections.

The high-level meeting was hosted by Jamaica and chaired by Guyana.

“The landmark outcome was the document which sets out the agreement to establish a transitional presidential council, comprised of seven voting members and two non-voting members, and the agreement that, on the establishment of the Council and their naming of a Prime Minister, Prime Minister (Ariel) Henry and his Council of Ministers would resign, paving the way for a new political process towards new free and fair democratic elections,” the Minister said.

Senator Johnson Smith was speaking today (April 17), at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

“I just wanted to update that the process made significant progress yesterday (April 16), when the official decree naming the members was published in Le Moniteur in Haiti, as required by their legal procedures,” she stated.

She noted that queries arose when the decree was previously published without naming the members of the Council.

“The Council members have now been named… which we believe will set a new path, or rather a new energy behind the process which is under way,” the Minister said.

“There are still some issues that are being sorted out in terms of the content of the decree, but it has included the criteria that had been agreed in the outcome declaration of March 11, and does set the way for the next procedural steps on the path back to democracy,” she added.

The Minister noted, too, that a political accord has been developed by the Transitional Council, which builds out their areas of responsibility and sets a framework for how they will function.

“So, that has built a lot of confidence, in the sense that there is clarity around how it is they plan to vote internally and operate the areas of focus, including, of course, the establishment of the Provisional Electoral Council and a National Security Council that will manage arrangements in respect of the Multinational Security Support (MSS) Mission, which has been authorised by the UN,” she said.

Senator Johnson Smith encouraged members of the international community to provide support for Haiti.

“The partners continue to meet; the US, of course, has been the primary proponent of funding for the MSS, but we continue to encourage all members of the international community to provide support, even as they are providing support to other conflicts across the world. We also continue to thank Kenya for their willingness to lead the initiative,” she said.

The Minister said training for the multinational mission that will provide support to  the Haitian National Police Force is also progressing.

“So again, I remind this is not an intervention. It is not a military intervention. It is not a takeover. It is a provision of necessary and practical support to  a national police force that is outgunned and outmanned in the face of criminal gangs,” Senator Johnson Smith said.

The Minister noted that training is going well.  “We have 59 members of the Royal Bahamian Defence Force, 50 members of the Belizian Defence Force here training at the JDF with support and engagement by members of the Canadian Defence Force, who again are all here in partnership, looking at how we can work towards restoring peace and stability in Haiti to set the stage for free and fair elections,” she said.


Contact: Chris Patterson

Release: JIS



Photographer: Yhomo Hutchinson

Header: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, addresses today’s (April 17) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

Insert: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, converses with Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Information, Hon. Robert Morgan, at today’s (April 17) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

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Caribbean News




~Using AR, VR and XR to train and develop in the Caribbean ~


April 17, 2024 – The Sandals Corporate University (SCU) continues to make significant strides through their multimillion-US dollar project with EON Reality following a recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Global Campus (UWIGC) and the SCU.

The two-year agreement will allow both institutions to work together to explore and implement mutually rewarding initiatives focused on the development of extended reality projects, using the EON Reality platform.

The MoU, signed during a ceremony hosted at Sandals Barbados, provides a framework for The UWI Global Campus and the SCU to facilitate further cooperation in education and training initiatives across the Caribbean region. Dr. Luz Longsworth, Senior Corporate Director for the SCU, described the event as a historical one, where two great organizations come together to achieve great things. “Both institutions have much in common which allows us to join forces to impact the sustainability of our region. We focus on the development and education of our people and countries of this beautiful Caribbean. This MoU will create a framework for the SCU and The UWI Global Campus to work towards coordinating digital and technology related projects and initiatives across campuses and across the Sandals group.”

Dr. Longsworth went on to share the major areas the MoU will cover, “The UWI Global Campus will provide technical input and subject matter expertise for the development of 3D assets and 360-degree experiences in the development of hospitality training content specifically relating to rooms, food and beverage, bookings, watersports, and others. In turn, the SCU and Sandals will provide internship programmes for students, faculty, and staff at various levels. The MoU also makes provisions for collaborating with other institutions to foster an appreciation of new and emerging technological opportunities in the hospitality industry and to help in the understanding of how tourism can aid in environmental protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Finally, it will facilitate the use of technology, including without limitation, AR, VR, XR and AI to boost corporate social responsibility efforts,” she added.

Dr Francis O. Severin, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Global Campus, expressed his gratitude for this revolutionary opportunity to collaborate with the SCU. He shared, “in 2021 The UWI Global Campus made a decision to invest in advanced digital skills for its faculty to help prepare students academically for emerging digital technologies. It is even more important now to introduce and encourage skills to leverage platforms and technologies to generate digitally created goods and services for global audiences. This allows us to eliminate traditional barriers to productive participation like location, gender, and disabilities. These are the values we hold true which opens opportunities to collaborate with likeminded organizations. By harmoniously weaving into the teaching, technological and applied research capacities of the University through XR, AI and other emerging platforms alongside the SCU, we have no doubt we will be better able to support the movement of the Caribbean curriculum.”

He concluded by stating that The UWI Global Campus’ intention is to establish an immersive learning centre for staff, students, and stakeholders to learn, train and perform as efficiently and effectively as possible. “This will be the first of its kind for the region and will usher in a new approach to education and training that engages learners in experiential environments,” he said.

So far, both parties have already begun working on its first of many initiatives, the Digital Immersive Virtual Enhancement (DIVE) Project. Through this project, recorded experiences showcasing coral reefs, dive spots and protected areas will be used to showcase the beauty of underwater experience for tourism purposes but also used to protect the environment through training. It serves as a response to ecological challenges facing our region due to climate change, human impact, and natural disasters.


Photo Captions

Header – (From left) Dr. Karen Rosemin, Head of Digital Learning and Innovation, The UWI Global Campus, Dr Francis O. Severin, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Global Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth, Senior Corporate Director for SCU and Mr. Andre Campbell, Manager E-learning and Technology, SCU all share smiles after the signing of an MoU between both institutions at Sandals Barbados.

Insert – Captured signing the Memorandum of Understanding are Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Global Campus, Dr Francis O. Severin and Dr. Luz Longsworth, Senior Corporate Director for SCU. The MoU will allow both parties to work together to explore and implement extended reality projects, using the EON Reality platform.

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