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Caribbean updates: French judges dismiss chlordecone case (January 11, 2023)

Caribbean updates: French judges dismiss chlordecone case (January 11, 2023)

A panel of French judges dismissed a case that sought to hold the French government criminally responsible for the banana industry’s extended use of a banned pesticide in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Caribbean islands brought the case 20 years ago, and the judges said it’s too hard to determine who’s to blame for acts committed so long ago, reports the Associated Press.

The judges described the use of chlordecone from 1973-1993 as a scandalous “environmental attack whose human, economic and social consequences affect and will affect for many years the daily life of the inhabitants” of the two French Caribbean islands. But they also asserted that even in the 1990s, scientists had not established links between chlordecone and illnesses in people, a fact disputed by the plaintiffs.

The French government estimates that more than 90% of adults were exposed to chlordecone on both islands, whose combined populations total some 750,000 inhabitants. Among a variety of ailments, chlordecone is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, and these islanders suffer prostate cancer at among the highest rates in the world, French cancer researchers say. Other French research links chlordecone exposure to preterm births.

Last year a court in Paris found the French government guilty of wrongful negligence involving chlordecone in Guadeloupe and Martinique but denied compensation to those affected. (Associated Press)

Children’s Rights

  • The Jamaica Association of Social Workers is calling for mandatory background checks for locals and foreigners who intend to have direct interactions with vulnerable groups, after several wards were exposed to an American donor who was punished for indecent involvement with a minor, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.

Climate Justice and Energy

  • Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s ambitious plans to finance the fight against the climate crisis have the world listening, reports Americas Quarterly.

  • Guyana’s government has accepted $600 million coverage per oil spill disaster from ExxonMobil, instead of the industry-standard full liability coverage in the event of a spill, reports Kaieteur News.

  • Indigenous communities should be in control of their share of revenue earned through the sale of carbon credits, argues former Guyanese Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs Sydney Allicock. (Kaieteur News)

  • Offshore oil extraction would jeopardize one of Belize’s most significant economic assets — the Belize Barrier Reef —in one fell swoop with one of its most unique ecological areas. (Climate Tracker)

  • Portland Private Equity, PPE, is aiming for $350 million to finance a series of regional investments under Portland Caribbean Fund III that impact society and the environment. It would become one of the largest funds in the region, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.

  • Road infrastructure needs to be in line with changing climate, reports Climate Tracker, looking at the case of Valencia in Trinidad and Tobago (TT), which has been facing a drainage problem at its market for a very long time.

Public Security

  • Several governments in the Caribbean Community say that much of their focus this year will be devoted to reducing incidences of violent crime including gangland wars, international weapons smuggling and contract killings among others, reports Caribbean Life.

  • “Jamaica has been struggling to address the crime problem, as our murder rate continues to increase across the parishes. We are yet to see a comprehensive plan to effect change from the community level, with the people being a part of the decisions made. We have seen continuous implementation of the States of Emergency, without consultation or a process being guided by research,” writes Emma Lewis at Petchary’s Blog.

  • The human rights group Equal Rights, Access and Opportunities SVG Inc. says it is “deeply concerned” about the record-high number of homicides that occurred in St. Vincent and the Grenadines last year. In 2022, SVG recorded 42 homicides, reports iWitness News.

Human Rights

  • The Inter-American Press Society says 2022 was the most violent year against journalism in the Western Hemisphere, with Mexico and Haiti accounting for at least 29 deaths within the media industry. (Caribbean Media Corporation)


  • Recent acts of anti-Haitian violence and discrimination in the Dominican Republic reflect a long history of anti-Blackness in the DR. “The narrative that Dominican national identity is defined in opposition to all things Haitian—that is, Dominican history as always in opposition to Haitian humanity and existence—has contributed to what I call the institutionalization of anti-Haitianism in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere,” writes Ayendy Bonifacio in Nacla.

  • Ahead of general elections later this month, the Antigua and Barbuda UPP party has announced their intention to pass multiple immigration reforms under their “One Caribbean Vision” policy agenda. This includes removing work permit requirements for CARICOM and Dominican Republic nationals. (Americas Migration Brief)


  • LGBTQ rights advanced significantly in several Caribbean countries last year, but were also rolled back in other cases, reports Global Voices.

  • Caribbean IRN looks back over the past six months in its latest news update.

Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Rights

  • Jamaican Maroons gathered this week for the holy pilgrimage to the Cockpit Country, the 285th Maroon Independence Celebrations. Journeying far and wide across the island for the annual holy pilgrimage were the Nyabinghi, Revivalists, other practicing Maroon spiritualists and many others. (Tribal Tea Talk Blog)

  • Jamaican-born NYU professor Leo Douglas’ “Reimagining Nanny” project seeks to recast established “warrior queen” visions of Nanny of the Maroons, the only woman in Jamaica’s pantheon of national heros. Douglas’ work has considered her relationship with Cockpit Country, the rugged, mountainous environment in which she lived, writes Emma Lewis in Global Voices.

Caribbean and the World

  • Ana Montes, a U.S. intelligence officer convicted of spying for the Cuban government, was released from prison after more than 20 years. For almost 17 years, Montes gathered secret U.S. government information and passed it on to intelligence officers in Havana — one of the most damaging spies of her time, reports the Washington Post.


  • Waves: An Anthology of Caribbean Literature provides students with a curated, multi-disciplinary selection of works ranging from classic to contemporary readings. Featured authors include Nobel laureates Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul; seminal works utilizing Caribbean or creole language from Sam Selvon; classics from authors and poets, such as George Lamming, Claude McKay, and Kamau Brathwaite; and women authors, as they came into their own, exemplified in Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, and Edwidge Danticat, among others. — Repeating Islands

  • Fresh Milk Barbados recently announced the Barbadian artists—Joshua Clarke, Versia Harris, and Amelia Rouse—chosen for the Fresh Milk/Healing Arts Initiative. They will design artwork for bus shelters throughout the island. — Repeating Islands

  • Mauby, a tree bark-based Caribbean drink, is a centuries old brew made from the bark of the columbrina elliptica and boiled with sugar and a variety of spices. And it may be poised for a global boom, writes Daphne Ewing-Chow at Forbes.


  • Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has launched its 50th anniversary logo competition, under the slogan, “50 years strong: A solid foundation to build on.”

  • Sign up for an online course targeted at English speakers from the Caribbean on the Inter-American Human Rights System.

  • Apply to Island Innovation’s Ambassador Program.

Just Caribbean Updates

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