Violent gang attacks in St. Lucia
March 15, 2023
A series of homicides in the town of Vieux Fort in St. Lucia, last week, has put a spotlight on violence in the Eastern Caribbean. St Lucia’s Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre — who is also National Security Minister — has called for help from the Regional Security System, RSS, and has also implemented 24-hour police patrols in response to seven gunshot murders. (Caribbean National Weekly, The Voice, Loop News)
“The country’s street gangs are increasingly at each other’s throats as the island nation has become a transit hub for South American cocaine going to the US and Europe,” according to InSight Crime’s 2022 Homicide Roundup.
This has been worsened by an influx in American weapons, with one Pennsylvania man jailed last March for trafficking nearly 40 weapons to St. Lucia.
Turks and Caicos Islands was the deadliest country per capita last year in Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Jamaica. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas, also suffer high per capita homicide rates.
More Public Security
Fifteen people have been convicted on charges ranging from gang membership and gun possession to murder. The year-long, landmark trial is a major win for Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ government, and was hailed by Jamaican authorities as a major blow to one of the island’s deadliest criminal organizations, reports the Guardian.
The conviction “demonstrates the efficacy of Jamaica's gang-fighting legislation,” but the power scramble following the arrests of the One Don gang members “shows, once again, that the fall of kingpins can have violent ramifications,” notes InSight Crime.
The Haitian National Police named gang leader Vitel'Homme Innocent as a suspect in the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The accusations against Vitel'Homme, leader of a suburban gang outside Port-au-Prince, remain murky. “What is more apparent is that Haiti's dire security situation permits smaller gang leaders to quickly grow in prominence,” explains InSight Crime.
Discussions about Caribbean migration often focus on emigration to the Global North. But intraregional migration is an important trend that has grown across the region for decades, according to a new Migration Policy Institute report.
Climate change and natural disasters have also spurred intraregional migration and are likely to do so with growing intensity in the years to come, notes the report, which explores the many different forms migration takes in the Caribbean, and the policies and institutions in place in the region to manage it. (Migration Policy Institute)
“People in the Caribbean region are already on the move due to the effects of a warmer climate. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, in 2017 alone—after a particularly devastating Atlantic hurricane season—nearly 2 million people were internally displaced in the Caribbean,” write Alejandro Trenchi and Jackson Mihm in Global Americans.
Biden administration officials defended the government’s immigration policies toward Haitian migrants before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The policies include the deportation and repatriation of individuals back to Haiti despite its spiraling violence and deepening humanitarian crisis. (Miami Herald)
Climate Justice and Energy
“Guyana finds itself in a paradoxical historical position, having discovered immense reserves of the world’s primary source of energy at precisely the moment when global consensus is shifting away from further investments in dirty fuels,” reports the Dial.
The first episode of the Climate Conscious podcast, Better Than Before, Leveraging COVID-19 recovery for a sustainable Caribbean, features Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director of CANARI on reimagining Caribbean development.
Drought and careless fire practices combine dangerously in Jamaica, warns Petchary’s Blog.
Intense drought and heavy rainfall events occurred more often in the last eight years than in the previous decade, according to a new study released in Nature Water. The analysis, which uses direct NASA satellite observations, provides “indisputable” evidence that warmer global temperatures are increasing such extreme events, reports the Washington Post.
Trinidad and Tobago's Institute of Marine Affairs has partnered with government, private sector and community-based organizations to build its capacity in rehabilitating coral reefs and seagrass beds. (Global Voices)
With the natural resources of the rainforest a primary source of their livelihoods, representatives from Suriname’s Apoera, Apetina, Stoelmanseiland and Kwamalasamoetoe communities recently told Cari-Bois that climate change has affected their ability to fish, hunt and grow food. These effects are compounded by illegal mining and extensive deforestation which some studies have shown also affects the quality of water resources used by some Maroon communities.
Many Puerto Rican activists say a pervasive sense of ecological anxiety, alongside a love for the environment, has pushed them to fight for the archipelago's natural resources before a trio of development, deforestation, and deregulation destroys them. (Climate Tracker.Org)
Economics and Finance
The Cayman Islands has quietly become the main conduit through which Chinese companies raise money by selling shares to foreigners, according to a team of researchers from Stanford, Columbia and Yale. (New York Times)
Racial Justice and Reparations
“The Global Reparations movement has brought a new urgency to the study of history by exposing the criminal past and present of racial capitalism. Walter Rodney, Priya Satia, Caroline Elkins, Hilary Beckles and Gerald Horne are among the historians who have exposed the criminal linkages of the British monarchy,” reports Counterpunch. “The movements for reparative justice all over the world have made it more difficult for the left historians to relegate reparative history to the column of ‘identity’ politics.”
Montserrat’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations commemorate a thwarted 1768 revolt. “While many of Montserrat’s villages and family names still bear the legacy of Ireland’s presence during and after slavery, Montserrat’s version of St Patrick’s Day is a chance to remember the price paid in the struggle for freedom,” reports Lonely Planet.
The remains of nine Indigenous people shipped to the Netherlands after an archaeological dig over 30 years ago have been repatriated to Statia, in the Netherlands Antilles. (Loop News)
The paintings of Barbados-based artist Sheena Rose, in a powerful solo debut, Earth Black Lipstick, show “Black figures engaged in acts of leisure and sport. By obscuring their faces with voluminous hairstyles, Rose anonymizes them into what she calls “avatars”— composites of herself, friends, and strangers sourced from Pinterest, Instagram and her own travels. In a country where Black hair can still be the basis of a discriminatory court case, it is meaningful to see a series of paintings so dominated by it.” — Square Cylindar
Right to the City
A Guardian photo-essay on Havana’s housing eschews romanticism, and “documents the city’s housing situation as a microcosm of the country’s collapse. Many buildings have collapsed or been declared uninhabitable, forcing people to live in shelters or squat in unsafe conditions while new hotels are built around them.”
Suriname’s general elections are in two years — but the fight to lead the country is already underway, reports Caribbean Life. (See Feb. 23’s Just Caribbean Updates.)
Many of the grievances that caused the February riot in Suriname are legitimate, but “the escalation of violence raises deep concerns,” writes Scott MacDonald in Global Americans.
A Haitian-led solution to the country’s deep crisis is imperative, but not all Haitians agree on how to move forward. “As international actors consider whose voices to uplift, emphasizing the most marginalized and those with particular expertise—not simply those with proximity to foreigners—would be a better place to start,” writes Alan Yarborough in Global Americans. “The Montana Accord, its imperfections notwithstanding, defines a path forward at least for transitional governance and elections supported by an impressive array of Haitian organizations and individuals.”
A military intervention in Haiti would only entrench the island’s problems, argues Monique Clesca in Foreign Affairs.
The Book Industry Association of Jamaica launched an annual award recognizing the people who promote literacy and reading as tools for change, development, inclusive prosperity, and cultural preservation. (Global Voices)
23 March — Community Hangout: Championing the Escazú Agreement in the Caribbean — Climate Tracker.Org — Register
28 March — Diaspora in Recent Film from the Spanish Caribbean — University of Miami — Two day virtual forum — Register
Apply — Mama Cash’s Community Committee, participatory grantmaking decision-making body run for and by community members. (Deadline 19 March)