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Caribbean Updates: Protesters in Suriname (February 23, 2023)

Just Caribbean Updates
Just Caribbean Updates

Hundreds of demonstrators stormed Suriname’s parliament, broke windows and looted nearby businesses, last Friday. Initially peaceful anti-government protests, triggered by austerity measures imposed by the government of President Chan Santokhi, descended into chaos as protesters forced their way into the building and others clashed with police on the streets. (Associated Press and Miami Herald)

Demonstrators demanded Santokhi’s resignation, in response to his termination of state subsidies for fuel and electricity on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund. Inflation also fueled demonstrations: Suriname had a 54.6% inflation rate last year.

Santokhi’s government condemned the violence, saying in a statement it had set up a task force to track down those responsible for attacking parliament. (Reuters)

Network data confirm the restriction of social media and messaging platforms Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger in Suriname on government-owned internet operator Telesur on Friday. (Netblocks) While internet access was restored by Saturday, but the restriction “demonstrates the concern the government has and the tools it can use during future protests,” notes the Latin America Risk Report.

Bahamas to increase deportations of Haitians

The Bahamas will increase repatriations of irregular Haitian migrants, said Prime Minister Philip Davis, who declared in a national address that “The Bahamas is for Bahamians.” The move follows increasing alarm among Caricom countries over migration from crisis-wracked Haiti, reports the Miami Herald. (See last week’s Just Caribbean Updates.)

In a nationwide radio and television broadcast on Sunday, Davis announced the launch of “Operation Secure,” a collaborative security operation between the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Defence Force, and the Department of Immigration, to address security and migration-related issues, particularly in informal shanty towns.

Davis warned Bahamians and registered migrants residing in shanty towns that they will be required to relocate as he unveiled his administration’s national framework policy on immigration. Davis furthered that documented migrants living in unregulated communities will be asked to relocate at their expense or their employer’s, or face repatriation.

The move comes after a Bahamian Supreme Court judge’s decision earlier this month to discharge an injunction that previously barred the demolition of structures in Abaco and New Providence, reports Eyewitness News.

While the government has framed the operation’s goals in terms of migration, many of those affected by the elimination of shanty towns have the right to be in The Bahamas, notes the Tribune in an editorial.

Davis said that stabilizing the situation in Haiti is the most effective way to decrease the amount of potential economic migrants coming to The Bahamas daily. (Caribbean Media Corporation)

The Caribbean and the World

  • Caricom leaders decided to focus on strengthening the Haitian police, rather than pushing for a multilateral military force, requested by Haiti’s interim government. “The path to bringing peace and stability to Haiti at the moment does not include boots on the ground, but rather building up the security mechanism that is in place,” Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said during the closing press conference of the 44th regular meeting of Caricom, last Friday. “That is the Haitian national police; working and resourcing them as best we can, for example ensuring that food is provided to them, they are paid on time and at the same time expanding the force to be able to ensure they have the capacity to deal with the issues that are there.” (Miami Herald)

  • Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s name has been touted as a World Bank managing director candidate who could bring the anachronistic Bretton Woods institution up to contemporary speed, reports the Guardian.

  • The U.S. Biden administration hopes the World Bank will focus on the provision of climate finance to poor countries. But many developing nations are concerned the climate focus will eclipse other needs, and ask: “why would the World Bank be any better at financing our green transition than it has been at lifting us out of poverty?” writes Larry Elliot in the Guardian.

  • Evan Ellis has a new two-part series: “Understanding PRC Engagement in the Caribbean.” He argues that the Caribbean has particular strategic importance for China due to its geographic proximity to the U.S., its importance as a financial and logistics hub, and proportion of countries recognizing Taiwan. Because of this, the Caribbean receives significant focus from China, relative to the region’s population and economic size, with respect to investment and loans, people-to-people diplomacy, and political and security engagement.

Climate Justice and Energy

  • Architecture can’t ignore the realities of climate change, argues Alyssa-Amor Gibbons, who looks at how traditional buildings perform under extreme conditions. In her TED talk she looks at how homes in her native Barbados, where the hurricane season is unforgiving and freak storms are becoming more frequent, showcase the brilliance of endemic designs that are built to work with nature — rather than against it.

  • Guyana has been suspended from the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) for failure to submit a report for 2020, reports Stabroek News.

  • “Deep Sea Matters,” a recent event organized by young Jamaican activists focused on deep sea mining, at University of the West Indies Mona campus in Kingston — Petchary’s Blog reviews.

Indigenous Rights

  • The South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) called on Guyana’s government to expedite titling of traditional lands that currently remain untitled, and to collaborate with Indigenous communities to protect forests. The call comes in the context of a national debate over carbon credits, after the government signed an agreement with Hess Corporation last year that will see the country earning US$750 million for its forest. (Kaieteur NewsCaribbean News Weekly)

  • Guyana Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo lashed out at the Amerindian Peoples Association for its criticisms of government’s handling of the carbon credit sale initiative it has embarked on. (Kaieteur News)

  • The APA said that the Vice President’s vilification of the organization is a continuation of the attacks by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall, but it however remains resolute in its objective of ensuring that indigenous peoples’ rights are protected and respected by all. (Kaieteur News)

Economics and Finance

  • Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett called for the creation of a global truism resilience fund to support tourism-dependent nations in periods of disruption. (Caribbean Journal)


  • “Dushi is not only a mellifluous adjective or noun, it is a uniquely Curacaoan philosophy of recognising the sweetness in things that sums up the island’s identity in just one word,” according to the BBC.

  • Based in Trinidad and Tobago, Kristine De Abreu shares some important figures from Caribbean folklore “Caribbean folk stories are not just a parent’s way to get children to behave and go to bed. In this part of the world, folk stories are thought to be real. Almost everyone in the Caribbean has a story about the time they encountered one of these mythical creatures.” — Repeating Islands


  • 1 March — Caribbean Climate Network Project Management training, focused on managing a climate adaptation project in small organizations. Register.


  • Call for expression of interest to contribute to the volume titled, “The Political Economy of Africa and the Caribbean”, by Adeoye O. Akinola  and Annita Montoute. Interested persons can write to Ms. Ratidzo Makombe, Researcher at the Institute for Pan African Thought and Conversation, University of Johannesburg, at ratidzom@uj.ac.za

  • Apply to the 2023 HEY Ambassador Program, which brings together leading climate change activists for a 9-month Intergenerational program with the support of UNICEF and other partners.

  • Apply — Caribbean Policy Research Institute Communications Officer

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has launched a public recruitment process for the position of head of its Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.

Just Caribbean Updates

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