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Caribbean Updates: Guyana opposes Venezuela Essequibo referendum (November 3, 2023)

Just Caribbean Updates
Just Caribbean Updates

Venezuela is planning a referendum titled “in defense of Guayana Esequiba,” next month, with questions aimed at securing public support for the annexation of Guyana’s Essequibo region. This move disregards international law, the 1899 International Arbitral Award, and the ongoing International Court of Justice (ICJ) process to settle the dispute, reports Caribbean News Global)

Two of the referendum questions seek to authorize Venezuela’s government to annex territory that belongs to Guyana and create a state called Guyana Essequibo within Venezuela. Such a vote would violate international law, which strictly prohibits the government of one State from unilaterally seizing, annexing or incorporating the territory of another state, noted CARICOM in a statement. (Caricom Today)

Guyana strongly opposes this, stating it would amount to the annexation of its territory and violate international law. (Dominica News Online, Loop)

Tensions regarding the issue were heightened after Guyana’s announcement last week of a “significant” new oil discovery in the area, and that it had awarded bids to eight companies, foreign and local, to drill for crude in its waters. (AFP)

Guyana’s bipartisan parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee has agreed to table a motion in the National Assembly to address Venezuela’s recent threats regarding the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy. The focus is on obtaining unanimous approval in the National Assembly against Venezuela’s threats, and an aggressive public awareness campaign is being accelerated to involve both government and opposition representatives, as well as the wider society. (Demerara Waves)

The Caribbean and the World

  • Jamaica was the only Caribbean nation that did not vote for the U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza. The the response from many Jamaicans their country’s decision to abstain was overwhelmingly negative, writes Emma Lewis at Global Voices.

  • Critics accused the Jamaican government of trying to ‘walk between raindrops’ on the issue, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.

  • Kenneth Mohamed criticizes Jamaica’s decision to abstain from last week’s UN General Assembly vote on Gaza, referencing the country’s diplomatic efforts against apartheid in South Africa. (Guardian)

  • Barbados Underground sent an open letter to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley requesting that Barbados officially recognize the State of Palestine due based on principles of justice, fairness, and equality, as well as a commitment to human rights and global solidarity. 

Public Security

  • “Caribbean countries are taking new steps to try to slow the traffic of illegal weapons, many of which come from the United States. The average rate of violent deaths in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) region is nearly triple the global average,” report Khalea Robertson and Brian Ellsworth in Americas Quarterly. “Gun violence is particularly acute in Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica—the latter now has one of the highest murder rates in the world.”

  • Jamaica’s National Security Minister, Dr. Horace Chang, is standing by his controversial statement that the police should use lethal force, or “shoot to kill,” when confronted by armed criminals. Dr. Chang reiterated his support for police officers who use deadly force in self-defense during a recent awards ceremony. He argued that such a stance is necessary to protect the police and maintain law and order in Jamaica. (The Star)


  • The invasion of Haiti is the result of both external influences, such as U.S. imperialism, and the decisions and actions of Caribbean leaders, according to an article for Medium by Clash Collective, an organization of advocates for Caribbean unity and federation from below.

  • Grenada revolutionary leader Maurice Bishop was executed in 1983 alongside seven others. The whereabouts of their remains are unknown. A new Washington Post podcast investigates the mystery, including the role the U.S. government played in shaping the Caribbean nation’s fate.

  • Forty years after the U.S. invasion of Grenada, Bhaskar Sunkara celebrates the legacy of Bishop and the People’s Revolutionary Government, which “sought creative solutions to the problems of underdevelopment, economic inequality, and social oppression. Their solutions by and large worked, and that’s why we must remember them today.” (Guardian)

  • Heirs of Slavery, a group of British descendants of individuals involved in the transatlantic slave trade, is set to meet in London in early November, with the goals of discussing their ancestors’ roles in the slave trade and to consider ways in which they can address the historical injustices and make amends in the present. (Caribbean Life)

Democratic Governance

  • Integrity watchdogs are concerned about the non-gazetting of Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ statutory declarations for two consecutive years, saying it goes against efforts to improve transparency and public trust in the country’s political leadership and democratic institutions. (Jamaica Gleaner)

  • Cuban legislation on detention practices presents ambiguities that could lead to abusive practices, putting citizens’ rights and security at risk. The lack of clarity and discrepancies between the legislation and the Cuban Constitution raise concerns about the legality and legitimacy of detentions in the country, according to a report by Cubalex.


  • Jamaican legislators are expressing concerns about proposed higher minimum sentences for murder and their potential impact on the already overcrowded and deplorable conditions in the country’s high-security prisons. They worry that longer sentences will further strain the prison system and may not effectively address the issue of rehabilitation for inmates. (Jamaica Observer)

  • A group of attorneys and human rights advocates in Jamaica has come together to address systemic issues within the country’s justice system. They are working to assist underprivileged individuals who have been languishing in prisons due to prolonged delays in obtaining trial transcripts, challenges in the parole process, and the improper incarceration of mentally ill individuals. (Jamaica Gleaner)

  • Jamaica should have access to the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) instead of creating its own final court. The CCJ is a better choice because it is already familiar to Jamaica, has a reputation for high-quality jurisprudence, is located in the same geographic and cultural space as Jamaica, has a sustainable funding model, and is not subject to the same risks as the Privy Council. (Jamaica Gleaner)


  • Over 100 Guyanese citizens gathered in front of the Office of the President in Georgetown, demanding specific actions related to ExxonMobil and the country’s oil industry. The protesters are calling for ExxonMobil Guyana to return the “120 oil blocks” in the Stabroek Block by the end of the month. This demand is in response to a provision in the ExxonMobil oil deal that mandates the company to relinquish 20 percent of the Stabroek Block this month. (Kaieteur News)

  • “Suriname’s oil industry is important, but now comes the hard part: getting to the point of exporting the oil, deciding how to spend the revenues, and how to balance financing needs with climate change concerns”, explains Scott B. MacDonald, Chief Economist at Smith’s Research & Gradings, Research Fellow at Global Americans, and Founding Member of the Caribbean Policy Consortium, in an article for Global Americans


  • “Rising maritime migration has been overshadowed by events at the U.S.-Mexico border, but is presenting a formidable challenge of its own to the U.S. government, one unseen in decades. Cubans and Haitians in particular have been taking to the sea in numbers not witnessed in a generation, and the Haitian numbers could surge as that country spirals closer to collapse… Perhaps partly in response to these new levels of interdictions, the Biden administration included maritime migrants in its 2023 policy to disqualify from asylum those who travel to the United States without authorization,” says MPI, adding that “The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are key U.S. partners for enforcement in the Caribbean.” (Via Americas Migration Brief)

  • The dire migration crisis in the Caribbean Sea, where migrants, including Dayry Alexandra Cuauro and her daughter, are risking dangerous journeys to escape economic hardship. The influx of migrants, especially from Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti, is straining U.S. Customs and Border Protection. While the Biden administration is making diplomatic efforts, the crisis calls for a comprehensive and compassionate response to address both immediate and underlying issues. (Repeating Islands)

Human Rights

  • Equal Rights, Access, and Opportunities SVG Inc. (ERAO SVG) launched the “All Vincentians Are Equal” TV and Radio Campaign on October 2, 2023, to promote equality and respect among all Vincentians, regardless of their race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, class, political opinion, or any other status. (St. Vincent Times)

  • Jamaica’s Constitutional Court has been barred from hearing a challenge to the country’s “buggery” law. The court ruled that the savings law clause of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms prevents it from entertaining the challenge brought by Maurice Tomlinson. (Nationwide)


  • Seed work was practiced for centuries in Antigua and Barbuda, with roots in the country’s enslaved African women who used the work as a source of income after emancipation. With few practitioners remaining, some officials are trying to revitalize the dying art, reports the Guardian.

  • “Goodbye Bay” by the late Trinidadian writer Jennifer Rahim is her last novel, published in July 2023. The novel is set in 1963, one year after Trinidad and Tobago gained independence. Jennifer Rahim was an acclaimed Trinidadian writer known for her poetry, fiction, and literary criticism. Her previous works include “Curfew Chronicles: A Fiction,” which won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature in 2018, and “Songster and Other Stories.” (Repeating Islands)

Economics and Finance

  • A new report suggests that richer countries and private lenders are pushing heavily indebted countries in the global south to continue relying on fossil fuels to repay their debts. The pressure to make debt repayments is compelling these countries to invest in fossil fuel projects, exacerbating the challenge of transitioning away from fossil fuels and addressing the climate crisis. (The Guardian)

Climate Justice

  • Discussions surrounding the concept of a “just transition” in the context of climate change must consider the unique challenges and priorities of small island developing states (SIDS). These states face specific vulnerabilities and difficulties, and their voices and concerns should be actively integrated into the international dialogue on climate justice and equitable transitions to sustainable, low-carbon economies. (Climate Analytics)

  • Environmental groups are calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining in advance of a meeting in Jamaica of a U.N. body, the International Seabed Authority’s council. The fear among conservationists is that this U.N. body might soon authorize the world’s first license to harvest minerals from the ocean floor. (Caribbean Life)

  • In a new episode of Climate Conscious Podcast host Derval Barzey, talks with Khadija Stewart, ocean specialist, and climate enthusiast, about the controversial topic of deep-sea mining. Listen

  • Belize ratified the Escazú Agreement on March 7, 2023, a significant achievement in promoting environmental protection and human rights in the region. (Parliamentarians for Global Action)

  • April Baptiste and Stacy-ann Robinson co-edited a special issue of the Geographical Journal on environmental justice in the Caribbean. Together, they observed that, despite its history of colonialism, slavery, and exploitation leading to a deterioration of its environmental and social fabrics, the Caribbean had not been at the center of mainstream environmental justice discourse.

  • The key takeaways from the Gen Z Climate Conference in the Caribbean include an emphasis on the importance of communication, collaboration, mentorship, and self-care in the field of environmental activism. Plus, environmental practitioners and youth activists shared their experiences and insights, emphasizing the significance of consulting experts, collaborating with others, seeking mentorship, and prioritizing self-care as essential elements of a sustainable movement for change. (Global Voices).

  • Climate Tracker has announced the winners of its COP28 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to outstanding young climate journalists from various countries in the Global South. The selected journalists have shown dedication and innovation in their coverage of climate-related issues. (Climate Tracker)

  • The new Open Access book Communities and Museums in the 21st Century: Shared Histories and Climate Action which focuses on the role of museums in defining community identities within the context of globalization and decolonization, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean is now available. Read

  • Some Small Developing Island States (SIDS) have been overcoming the climate financial barrier but, still, they need that the GCF needs to take some actions on the subject, according to Enhancing Access to Climate Finance for Small Islands Developing States: considerations by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board.

  • The current and future impacts of Climate Change require women in Caribbean fisheries to be considered in strategies and policies that will assist adaptation and resilience across the fisheries value chains, states the new investigation The impact of Climate Change on Vulnerable Populations 

  • A new episode of CESaRE voices Navigating Climate Caribbean Finance: Part 1 featuring Dr, Graham King, Director of STACIE is now available. They will discuss the dynamic landscape of investment in innovative research in the Caribbean. Listen.

  • “I don’t think we are being listened to, in the simplest terms. I don’t think that the issue of middle-income country that has not afforded climate finance or financing development is ludicrous”, states the Former Director for Climate Change for the government of Jamaica UnaMay Gordon.

  • The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) claims it is being forced to withdraw from the appeal process regarding the issuance of carbon credits to the Government of Guyana by the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) Secretariat. The APA alleges that ART did not correctly apply its standard, The REDD+ Environmental Excellence Standard (TREES), which requires respect for indigenous rights before issuing carbon credits. (Kaieteuer News)

  • An open letter called for courageous leadership from Latin America and the Caribbean to unite behind shared outcomes at COP28. The letter emphasizes the urgency of the climate crisis and its severe impacts on the region, including wildfires, tropical cyclones, droughts, and more. (Petchary´s Blog)

  • The world is expected to exceed 1.5°C of warming between 2026 and 2042 in scenarios with no rapid emissions reductions, with a central estimate between 2030 and 2032 according to an analysis in Carbon Brief



  • The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) opened its application for the Fellowship Programme aimed to provide a unique opportunity for young professionals to gain training and experience in crucial areas and to build capacity within AOSIS member governments for engagement in international processes. Candidates must be a national of an AOSIS country, aged between 25 and 32, holding a degree in a relevant field, and have 1 to 3 years of experience (up to 5 years) in government or international organizations, among other requirements. Apply

  • The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University has opened applications for its seventh cohort. This program invites emerging leaders from around the world to participate in a nine-month immersive program, combining academic, skill-based, and experiential learning. The program for the 2024-2025 academic year runs from summer 2024 to spring 2025, and the application deadline is December 12, 2023, at 5 p.m. EST. Apply

  • Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) serving key populations that are based in Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, Surinam, and Trinidad & Tobago can apply for funding for small grants to support Advocacy Campaigns focused on preserving access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health services using traditional and social media. CSOs may submit up to two proposals for consideration. The new Deadline to apply is Sunday, November 05, 2023. Apply.

Jordana Timerman/Just Caribbean Updates

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