Alex kicks off Atlantic Hurricane season
Tropical Storm Alex became the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which started last week. It killed at least three people in Cuba this weekend. Alex formed in the Gulf of Mexico last week partially from the remnants of Hurricane Agatha, a Pacific region storm that killed at least nine people as it moved over Mexico and into the Gulf. (New York Times)
Last week marked the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which forecasters say has a 65% chance for an above-normal number of storms. Experts predict a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms, of which six to ten could become hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes. Climate factors contributing to the trouble ahead include La Nina, human-caused climate change, warmer ocean waters, the Loop Current, increased storminess in Africa, cleaner skies, a multi-decade active storm cycle and massive development of property along the coast. (Guardian, Loop News, Associated Press)
Last year was the third most active season on record, with 21 named storms and seven hurricanes. But that is part of a longer trend. In the past two years, forecasters ran out of names for storms.
Studies show that climate change is making hurricanes wetter, because warm air can hold more moisture, and are making the strongest storms a bit stronger. Storms also may be stalling more, allowing them to drop more rain over the same place.
Democratic Governance, Transparency and Accountability
- The Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network launched an investigative series on citizenship by investment programmes in the Caribbean. The stories examine the benefits of the programmes, along with transparency and accountability concerns in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Lucia. The cross-border collaboration highlighted the economic value of such programmes to these small island developing states.
Climate Justice and Energy
- Guyana’s environmental authority renewed the environmental permit for ExxonMobil’s Liza 1 development in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana for five years even as the company continues to commit flaring violations owing to the failed gas compressor, reports Stabroek News.
- Activists and experts had sought to use the permit expiry to push the oil major to obtain a better financial deal from its oil endowments, as well as adequate protection for the environment. (Kaieteur News) “The so-called protection that is in this permit is very weak and we are already seeing there is destruction of Guyana’s natural resource base as a result,” said Guyanese environmental lawyer Melinda Jankis. (Kaieteur News)
- Colombia’s Constitutional Court granted a special emergency protective measure (“tutela”) for the Providencia Raizal community to Raizal leader Josefina Huffington. It is an English-speaking Afro-Caribbean community in Providencia, which is governed by Colombia. The court accepted the argument that the community’s rights were put in jeopardy by climate displacement without an adequate government response in the wake of Hurricane Iota in 2020. (El Isleño)
- Colombian rights organization Dejusticia asked the Court to evaluate climate change as a factor that “greatly affects the threat or violation of human rights”, such as access to housing, water, health, food security that have been evidenced in Providencia. The request stressed that, as a consequence of what happened, many people have had to move from the island to San Andrés and other Caribbean municipalities. (El Espectador)
- Organizations of civil society asked the United Nations to take measures to protect Raizal communities in San Andrés and Providencia. They called on the international organization to pressure the Colombian government to meet its obligations of prevention and climate event risk management for the protection of the Raizal people. (El Isleño)
- Jamaica’s mining minister recently called for Jamaica to plan for life after bauxite and alumina, pointing to limestone as a possible option. But the extractive limestone industry presents significant environmental challenges, and limestone plays an important role in the filtering, storage and supply of our fresh water, warns Theresa Rodríguez-Moodie of the Jamaica Environment Trust.
Decolonization and Racial Justice
- The future of the British monarchy in the Caribbean looks bleak: In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, public sentiment toward the monarchy has soured, and calls for reparations for Britain’s often brutal role in the slave trade have been rising, reports the New York Times.
- “There is no better example of the complex need for localization than Haiti, where it is a first step to correcting historic exploitation of the Haitian peoples and their land, including the “double debt” that has burdened the country for over two centuries,” writes Tanvi Nagpal in Devex.
- Countries in the Americas should fortify their health systems to confront rising coronavirus deaths as well as the growing threats posed by other contagious diseases, including monkeypox, viral hepatitis and the flu, said PAHO Director Carisse Etienne, last week. (New York Times)
- The Summit of the Americas’ utility is increasingly questioned by experts. Sir Ronald Sanders joins the discussion, and argues that the Caribbean would be better served by a more specific forum where regional concerns could get U.S. attention.
- IPS looks at a growing effort by small Cuban farmers to recuperate degraded land and use environmentally friendly techniques, a critical need in a country lacking in domestic food security and facing high import prices in the midst of economic crisis. At the end of 2021, Cuba had 226,597 farms, 1202 of which had agro-ecological status while 64 percent of the total – some 146,000 – were working towards gaining agroecological certification, according to official statistics.
- Haitian prisons have suffered lack of food and water scarcity for at least three weeks, but shortages have worsened recently, reports the Miami Herald. The shortages, along with the reduction in prison visits and recreation activities, is a recipe for a prison revolt or a prison break, the latter of which has been a threat for months, according to Pierre Esperance, who heads the National Human Rights Defense Network.
- Trinidad and Tobago is likely to see a rise in violent crimes, as gangs splinter and bounce back from the pandemic, according to island authorities. It appears that gangs are splintering and, in the process, becoming more vicious, reports InSight Crime.
- Seizures of military-style assault weapons in the Dominican Republic are raising concerns that criminal groups are accessing powerful firearms smuggled from the United States and elsewhere, reports InSight Crime.
- Antigua and Barbuda became the first country in the Caribbean to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention. Convention No. 190 is the newest ILO Convention and the first to address violence and harassment in the world of work. (St. Lucia Star)
- One of the first new international assistance trends to emerge in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the increased focus on the health sector and on social assistance, writes Stephen Brown in ANN.
- Renowned Barbadian novelist George Lamming died last weekend at the age of 94. He will be accorded an official funeral on his native island. — Global Voices
- For the Jamaica Gleaner, “Lamming’s death was another pointer to the end of the era of that first generation of West Indian writers, artists, and intellectuals who, despite the turmoil of their colonial experiences, discerned the existence of a genuine Caribbean civilisation and fought for its acceptance and embrace.”
- The BBC’s “Big Jubilee Read” celebrates great books from across the Commonwealth, to coincide with the Platinum Jubilee. It features 70 titles – ten from each decade of the Queen’s reign, with a great selection from Caribbean writers.
- 18 June — CEDAW Speaker Series: Article 4 — Gaynel Curry, Bahamian human rights expert — Equality Bahamas. More info
- Opening — Director of Programmes — International Planned Parenthood Federation
- Climate Change Time Capsule competition — The Climate Change Initiative
Just Caribbean Updates