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Caribbean Updates: Belize delays Escazú ratification (February 16, 2023)

Caribbean Updates
Caribbean Updates

Belize said it would delay ratification of the Escazú Agreement, after Costa Rica’s Congress blocked the country’s ratification of the landmark U.N.-backed environmental treaty. (Breaking Belize News)

The Escazu Agreement, which came into force in 2021, provides a sweeping framework for countries in the region to strengthen environmental policy, notably imposing requirements regarding the rights of environmental defenders.

The agreement was signed in Costa Rica in 2018, but has been rejected by the country’s current government, which argues the country has enough environmental regulations, reports Reuters.

Public Security

  • The Caribbean became the region’s murder hotspot last year, according to InSight Crime’s 2022 Homicide Roundup. Record cocaine production, gang fragmentation and weapons flow across the region contributed to ongoing high murder rates in Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • For the first time in three years, Jamaica did not top the regional murder rate charts, reports InSight Crime. “Unfortunately, this has less to do with success in stamping out Jamaica’s own violence and more to do with appallingly high rates witnessed elsewhere in the Caribbean.”


  • Haiti’s crisis, and the migration it has spurred to other countries in the region, is expected to be a major topic at the Caricom leaders’ meeting that starts today. Some of the group’s 15 members are pushing to get key Haitian stakeholders to a neutral nation in the region to reach an agreement to hold elections, though it would be impossible to hold a vote under the current security situation. (Associated Press)

  • Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis, who is hosting, said the goal was a “Haitian-led solution,” reports Reuters. He urged the U.S. and Canada to take the lead in an international response. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols will join Caricom leaders at the meeting.

Caribbean and the World

  • The prospect of a new “sustainability agenda” at the WTO presents new opportunities for Caricom countries, and can help the region to reform its profile, assume leadership, and reframe the terms of the debate at the WTO. A new policy paper by TESS and the UWI proposes key elements for a trade-related climate change agenda.

  • Dire warnings of nefarious Chinese investments in Latin America and the Caribbean are misguided — “a closer look shows they barely exist, much less pose a threat,” argues A.J. Manuzzi in Responsible Statecraft.

  • Guyana Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud has asked Facebook and Twitter to take down maps that show Venezuela with a chunk of Guyana attached, some produced by Venezuela’s Maduro government. The maps, Persaud told the social media giant, could “permanently damage relations between States, incite violence against the territory and people of Guyana, and derail the current adjudication of the matter.” (Washington Post)

  • Two Haitian millionaires accused by Canada of corruption and enabling murderous gangs to run rampant across the country were helped for years by U.S. lawyers and bankers to buy offshore companies and luxury properties, according to documents from the Pandora Papers — International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

  • It’s time for the U.S. to take Cuba off its list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” argues William LeoGrande in Responsible Statecraft.

  • 125 years after the USS Maine exploded in the Havana harbor, it is long past time that the US treated Cuba like the sovereign nation it is, argues William LeoGrande in The Nation.

Racial Justice

  • ‘Legal Identity, Race and Belonging in the Dominican Republic: From Citizen to Foreigner’ identifies a connection between the role of international actors, such as the World Bank and the United Nations, in promulgating the universal provision of legal identity and links these with arbitrary measures to restrict access to citizenship paperwork from (largely) Haitian-descended people born and living in the Dominican Republic. (Repeating Islands)

  • In The Ends of Paradise: Race, Extraction, and the Struggle for Black Life in Honduras, Christopher A. Loperena examines the Garifuna struggle for life and collective autonomy, and demonstrates how this struggle challenges concerted efforts by the state and multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank, to render both their lands and their culture into fungible tourism products. (Player FM)


  • The Turks and Caicos Islands warned would-be Haitian migrants against traveling to their territory, promising to pursue undocumented migrants and to target employers who harbor, hire and employ them, reports the Miami Herald.

  • Human smugglers are using social media and instant messaging applications to promote and provide their illegal services, according to a study published by the International Organization for Migration. (Relief Web)

Food Sovereignty

  • Caricom countries have been able to achieve 57 percent of the target to reduce the US$5 billion regional food import bill by 25 percent by 2025. (NY Carib News)

Climate Justice and Energy

  • Partanna Bahamas, a private company producing carbon-negative concrete, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator, which matches regional entrepreneurs and businesses to its network of regional donors, investors, and philanthropists. The agreement comes shortly after Partanna announced the development of up to 1000 affordable homes with the Government of the Bahamas, reports Loop News.

Economics, Finance and Debt

  • Addressing Antigua and Barbuda’s existing and growing environmental challenges will require financial resources far beyond what the government can currently allocate given its unsustainable debt position, writes Nadia Henry in “An Implementation Roadmap for Climate Adaptation Swaps” for the OECS.

Labour Rights

  • More than 1,100 garment workers in Haiti are sharing $1m in compensation from the owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein after the closure of a factory owned by a U.S. company left them destitute. PVH agreed to pay the sum to cover missed severance pay, pension contributions directly to workers and the government pension fund after involvement by the Worker Rights Consortium lobby group. (Guardian)

Critter Corner

  • More than half the endemic birds of the Bahamas are judged in danger of global extinction, reports the Miami Herald.

  • A man who repeatedly admitted scheming to smuggle finches from Guyana into New York for birdsong competitions was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. (Associated Press)


  • The Obatala Festival, an Orisha tradition in Trinidad and Tobago, pays homage to the figure in Yoruba mythology who was charged with the task of creating the earth. (Global Voices)

  • Gordon Rohlehr, literary critic, essayist, historian of Calypso and Carnival, who died on January 29, “was a warrior against amnesia, fighting battles to preserve and extend a continent of the Caribbean self which like his native Guyana was always at risk of slipping under the water,” writes Richard Drayton. (Stabroek News)

  • Athena Clarke writes in the Jamaica Observer on the “Thin line between cultural appropriation and appreciation for Jamaican culture on TikTok.”


  • Apply for the Waste Management Accelerator for businesses in Trinidad and Tobago.

  • Call for mentors and mentees for Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment Members


  • 22 Feb — “The Strategies of Small States: safeguarding autonomy and influencing great power” — The Islands and Small States Institute (ISSI), the Department of International Relations at the Faculty of Arts, the Institute for European Studies and the European Documentation Centre of the University of Malta. Register

Just Caribbean Updates

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