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Caribbean updates: Guyana rejects Venezuela Essequibo claim

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrates after signing the Organic Law for the Defence of Guayana Esequiba into effect on April 3, 2024.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrates after signing the Organic Law for the Defence of Guayana Esequiba into effect on April 3, 2024.(Loop)

Just Caribbean Updates

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed into law the results of a controversial referendum that laid claim to a significant chunk of Guyana’s territory, the oil-rich Essequibo region, last week. Maduro alleged that the U.S. has installed secret military bases in the territory, and are using them as a launch point for aggression against Venezuelan, reports CNN.

Guyana’s government condemned the move as an unlawful breach of international law that is contrary to the December 2023 peace agreement. Guyana insists the dispute should be resolved at the International Court of Justice, emphasizing that any decision there will be final and binding. (Loop)

“This attempt by Venezuela to annex more than two-thirds of Guyana’s sovereign territory and make it part of Venezuela is a flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law,” the Guyanese foreign ministry said last week (BBC).

On Monday, Venezuelan authorities said they had presented documents to the ICJ proving the country is the rightful owner of the Essequibo region — though last week Maduro insisted that the government does not recognize the ICJ as the correct instance to settle the dispute. (Loop, CNN)

Venezuela’s National Assembly, controlled by Maduro’s government, unanimously approved the law creating the state of Guayana Esequiba on 21 March. At the time, Guyana’s foreign ministry issued a statement declaring itself “gravely concerned” by the decision and calling on the international community to reject what it described as Venezuela’s “illegal expansionism”. CNN

Reparations and Decolonisation

  • Support is growing among African and Caribbean nations for an international tribunal to address the historical injustices of the transatlantic slave trade, with the United States backing a U.N. panel central to this effort. Proposed by the U.N. Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, the tribunal would address reparations for enslavement, apartheid, genocide, and colonialism. Advocates are working to build wider support among U.N. members for this special tribunal, which would establish legal norms for international reparations claims. (Reuters)

The Caribbean and The World 

  • The Bahamas has assumed the Chairmanship of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) from April to June 2024, taking over from Argentina. Chet Neymour, the Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the OAS, pledged commitment to multilateralism and emphasized the council’s role as a decisive body. The Bahamas aims to prioritize climate action and reform of the international financial architecture during its tenure. (Loop)

  • The Trinidad and Tobago government announced that it will not be providing military assistance to Haiti, despite the ongoing security crisis there. The decision aligns with Trinidad and Tobago’s stance of supporting Haiti through financial aid, human resources, and diplomatic efforts rather than deploying military or police forces. (Jamaica Observer)

  • A video of Guyanese President Irfaan Ali blasting a BBC reporter for trying to lecture him about climate change went viral recently — Ali voiced the view of many developing countries who view Western efforts to limit their extraction as hypocrisy. “Are you and your system in the pockets of those who destroy the environment through the industrial revolution and now lecturing us?” (Fox)

Climate and Environmental Justice

  • Guyana is facing a complex challenge with the discovery of offshore oil, leading to significant economic changes. The country, which has historically depended on sugar cane and received international praise for selling carbon credits to conserve its forests, is now exploring oil production as a new source of revenue. This shift raises concerns about the environmental impact and the sustainability of relying on fossil fuels, especially given global efforts to move away from them. (The New York Times)

  • Guyana has experienced approximately 1000 fires in Regions Five and Six within a week, from March 26 to April 2, 2024. These fires are part of the challenges faced during the current dry season. The Guyana Fire Service and other agencies have been responding to various wildfires, including a significant one near Santa Mission. The dry season is expected to continue until the end of April, heightening the risk of uncontrollable fires. (Kaietuer News)

  • Jamaica’s economic growth, seen as a success, has raised concerns about insufficient climate action. Despite achieving debt reduction and fiscal discipline through IMF programs, the country faces climate-related challenges in agriculture and tourism. Jamaica’s government has taken steps to address climate change, including establishing a Climate Change Division and seeking international funding for adaptation. However, concerns remain about the adequacy of these measures and the focus on mitigation over adaptation in global climate finance. (World Politics Review)

  • The Climate Justice Camp Caribbean in Sint Maarten is currently taking place, and aims to connect 120 advocates from 25 countries to engage in workshops and events focusing on climate and social justice. This annual global event promotes cross-border strategies and solidarity within the climate movement. (Climate Tracker)

  • Colorado State University forecasts an “extremely active” Atlantic Hurricane Season this year, with 23 named storms anticipated, including 11 hurricanes, five of which are expected to be major hurricanes (Category 3 and above). The active season is attributed to La Niña conditions and record warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic. Residents in hurricane-prone areas are advised to start preparing. The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. (Loop)

  • The Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) predicts a year of climate extremes for the Caribbean in 2024, influenced by a waning El Niño event and record-warm Tropical North Atlantic temperatures. This situation is expected to trigger an intense Heat Season with recurrent heatwaves and an early start to an intense wet season. Increased shower intensity and frequency could lead to high flooding, flash floods, and cascading hazards, except in the ABC Islands. (Loop)

  • The Voices from the Shore Theatre Collective, established by Barbados fisherfolk with support from CERMES, utilizes Popular Theatre to address injustices in the fishing industry, focusing on climate, blue, and social justice. Through creative expressions like poetry and role-play, they highlight challenges like social stigmatization, impacts of tourism, and issues in blue economy development. (SSF Hub)

Human Rights

  • In Haiti, violence and instability have driven many to desperation. Nun Neethoudjif Méléance, a 22-year-old teacher from Cap-Haitien, anxiously checks her phone daily for news from her family trapped in Port-au-Prince, under gang siege. “I feel like I’m powerless because they are my parents,” she says to the BBC, exasperated. “I cannot tell them what to do”.

  • A United Nations report highlights the severe situation in Haiti, citing rampant gang violence, sexual violence, and the recruitment of children by gangs as major issues. With a significant increase in killings and injuries due to gang violence from September 2023 to March 2024, the report calls for immediate actions, including tighter controls on weapon trafficking and the deployment of a Multinational Security Support mission to aid the National Police. 

  • The Guyana Government submitted additional information to the UN Human Rights Committee following intense questioning about its human rights practices. The submission aimed to address inaccuracies and refute allegations regarding judiciary corruption, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo. Guyana emphasized its commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and encouraged formal complaints on corruption to be directed to domestic commissions. (Starbroek News)

  • The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) has voiced its concerns to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about Guyana’s carbon credit process, specifically its technical shortcomings and the impact on Indigenous rights. They highlighted the failure of the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) grievance mechanism to address their complaints about the lack of effective consultations with Indigenous communities. (Stabroek News)

  • Jeshua Bardoo, a Vincentian barrister-at-law, has called on the Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the New Democratic Party (NDP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to take action against anti-LGBTQ+ laws following a court ruling that upheld these laws. Bardoo criticized the judgment for dismissing the cases against sections criminalizing same-sex activities, arguing that it weakens trust in the justice system’s protection of minority groups. (IWN)

Democratic Governance 

  • Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to Puerto Rico for a Democratic Party fundraiser sparked protests. Critics, including organizations like Jornada Se Acabaron Las Promesas and Boricuas for Palestine, condemned the US’s role in Puerto Rico and its support for Israel, calling for independence and highlighting issues like the PROMESA Act’s impact. (Black Agenda Report)

  • The Jamaican government and various officials have condemned comments made by Frank Hester about Black British MP Diane Abbott, following a contract with Hester’s company, TPP, for managing Jamaica’s digital medical records. Despite Hester’s apology, calls for accountability and potential contract cancellation have been voiced, emphasizing the importance of addressing discriminatory behavior. (The Guardian)

  • In Grenada, all beaches are public property, granting free access to everyone. Recently, access to Coral Cove Beach, traditionally through a public right of way across Coral Cove Cottages’ land, has been obstructed. This change disrupts a long-standing tradition of open access to this beach for the community and visitors. (Coral Cove Group) 

Culture

  • Maryse Condé, a celebrated writer from Guadeloupe known for her exploration of race, gender, and colonialism, has passed away at 90, reports The New York Times. Condé’s work, which spans from novels set in Africa and the West Indies to memoirs and food writing, earned her global acclaim and several literary honors, including the International Booker Prize shortlist.

  • The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture announces “La Poli/Gráfica de Puerto Rico: Latinoamérica y el Caribe,” an event that revisits the tradition of graphic arts exhibitions in Puerto Rico, reflecting contemporary issues. It features 103 artists from 20 countries while exploring the impact of societal pressures through graphic arts. The exhibition will be running from April 19 to September 15, 2024. (Repeating Islands)

  • Jorge Perugorría, a renowned Cuban actor and director, has been awarded the 2024 National Film Award by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). Known for his pivotal role in “Strawberry and Chocolate,” Perugorría has significantly contributed to cinema in Latin America and Europe. (Euro Euro)

  • The discovery at the El Caño Archaeological Park in Panama revealed a tomb of a pre-Hispanic Coclé lord, described as the richest burial trove found in the area so far. This significant find included an extravagant array of artifacts such as gold breastplates, jewelry, ceramics, and bone flutes, highlighting the Coclé civilization’s sophisticated culture and craftsmanship. (Repeating Islands)

Opportunities 

  • The Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship is now open for applications for its third cycle, from May to September 2024. It offers Caribbean journalists the opportunity to report on climate justice issues, providing training, a monthly stipend, and a platform for their work. Applications are open until April 22, 2024. Learn more. 

  • The Rainforest Foundation has launched a new donation collection “The earth is speaking” which driven by indigenous communities and the organization leaders with the mission to protect the rainforest and the planet. Donate

  • The Global Legal Action Network is looking for a Junior Legal Associate or Paralegal. The candidate has to be based in Antigua and Barbuda and applicants must have practical legal experience ideally in Antigua and Barbuda or other jurisdictions in the Eastern Caribbean or the wider Caribbean region. Learn more. 

  • The American Caribbean Maritime Foundation has launched a digital portal for students in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas interested in maritime careers to apply for scholarships and grants. Applications are open until April 30, 2024. The foundation, partnering with several Caribbean academic institutions, aims to support maritime professionals and seafarers from the region. Learn more.

  • The Caribbean Climate Justice Project and the Caribbean Regional Youth Council are launching Youth IRIE, a series of three webinars focused on renewable and inclusive energy, sustainable opportunities, and climate justice for Caribbean youth. The webinars are scheduled for April 25, May 2, and May 9 at 7 PM AST. Participants who complete all sessions can attend a workshop in Saint Lucia and the 2nd Caribbean Youth Parliament on Energy & Climate Justice, with opportunities for grants to fund community projects. Register.

  • The Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship is now accepting applications for its third cycle, set to run from May to September 2024. This opportunity aims to empower Caribbean journalists to effectively report on climate justice issues, offering training, a monthly stipend, and engagement opportunities like podcast episodes and Instagram Lives. Apply.

Events

  • April 12th, the Climate Finance Fund and others are organizing a meeting in Washington, D.C. leaders in advocacy and financial policy. The goal is to discuss ways to encourage private climate finance from the U.S. to the Global South. Learn more & register.

Victoria Mendizabal contributed research and drafting assistance this newsletter.

Just Caribbean Updates/Jordana Timerman
https://caribbeannewsupdates.blogspot.com 04/09/2024

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