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Likely FATF blacklisting reprieve for Guyana… Jamaica treads cautiously on marijuana… Ebola fears hold up crude-oil discharge in Trinidad

Fearing the deadly Ebola virus, workers at Trinidad and Tobago’s state-owned oil company, Petrotrin, were up to late Tuesday resisting efforts to berth an oil tanker that arrived there.

The tanker, Overseas Yellowstone, arrived at Point-a-Pierre arrived last Thursday, but since then has been unable to offload its consignment of imported crude oil to operate its refinery.

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Petrotrin has said that if the ship is not allowed to berth and deliver its cargo, the twin-island republic will soon have to go without electricity and fuel.

The ship arrived from Gabon and transited other countries before arriving in Trinidad and Tobago waters. Gabon is not affected by Ebola but borders Guinea- one of the countries where many have succumbed to the virus.

Although Trinidad and Tobago authorities have cleared the ship’s crew of the disease, the Oilfield Workers Trade Union or OWTU is adamant that its workers are being put at risk.

OWTU Leader Ancel Roget was reported on Trinidad and Tobago’s Power 102 FM as saying that Petrotrin has used an archaic means of certifying the ship’s crew and does not cater for deadly disesse…

Jamaica says it is treading cautiously in decriminalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

The issue was raised by journalists at the just concluded Caribbean Week of Agriculture held in Suriname.

While that week focused on the importance of family farming, no discussion was held about the shifting of small-scale famers from banana and other crops to marijuana.

Jamaica’s Agriculture Minister, Derrick Kellier told reporters that legalizing marijuana for medicinal use will become a reality only after there is adequate public awareness as well as the crossing of international legal hurdles…

He says countries stand to benefit economically from marijuana production.

Mr Kellier has said that his country’s Minister of Legal Affairs has been crafting legislation that will no longer see persons being prosecuted for being in possession of marijuana cigarettes, popularly called “spliffs”.

There has been growing tolerance for marijuana in the US and Canada.

Guyana’s political parties do not appear to be serious about campaign financing.

At least, that’s the view of one of the Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Mr. Charles Corbin has been attending meetings on the  thorny subject that have been held by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and other entities.

He says that based on what he has been hearing from representatives of political parties, none of them is interested in revealing who is financing their election campaigns…

OAS Election Observer Missions have repeatedly recommended that strict laws and regulations be put in place to address campaign financing.

The opposition, in the past, has raised concerns about the government’s alleged abuse of State resources in electioneering.

Guyana appears to have won yet another reprieve from global blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for failure to pass amendments to its five-year old financial crimes law.

The opposition-controlled National Assembly has refused to pass the amendments that have been recommended by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

Despite public and private calls by the Organisation of American States, Caricom and  most recently the Caribbean Association of Bankers, the opposition has refused to budge. The opposition wants the law to be tightened to insulate the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) from political influence.

Already, the CFATF has advised financial institutions to be wary of transactions with Guyana.

Attorney General, Anil Nandlall travelled to France where he delivered a Letter of Commitment from President Donald Ramotar to the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group.

Mr Nandlall stresses that that letter is government’s commitment to implement the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing Terrorism.

He is somewhat optimistic that that letter again staves off the possibility of being blacklisted internationally by the FATF…

The Attorney General says Guyana now has to work out an action plan in collaboration with the FATF’s Americas Regional Review Group. He declined to disclose the time frame of the action plan.

The U.S. government announced Tuesday that all passengers arriving by plane whose trip originated in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will have to enter the country through the five airports that have special controls in place to detect the Ebola virus.

The Homeland Security Department announced the restriction in a statement, which will enter into force on Wednesday and the aim of which is to “prevent the spread” of Ebola in the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson noted in the communique that the five airports – New York’s JFK, the Newark airport, Washington Dulles, Chicago and Atlanta – have strengthened security with measures that include taking the temperature of passengers coming from West Africa.

About 94 percent of the travelers who come to the United States from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea enter the country through these five airports, DHS said, but currently there are no direct flights from any of those three countries to the United States.

Johnson said that the U.S. government is working closely with airlines to implement the restrictions such that the affected passengers’ travel plans are disrupted as little as possible.

He also said that DHS is continually evaluating whether “additional” controls or restrictions may be necessary to protect the U.S. public.

Spain’s secretary of state for international cooperation and for Ibero-America, Jesus Gracia, warned on Tuesday that the main threats facing the Latin American democracies are populism, inequality and lack of public.

Gracia made his remarks safety in Cartagena, Colombia at the opening of a forum on democratic governability in Latin America organized by Spain’s Aecid international development agency on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

“There is a trend toward populism, toward easy solutions. We’re in a world that is more difficult to manage each day,” said Gracia, enumerating the challenges facing the Latin American democracies.

He said that now “the governments are not what they were because power is more divided and it’s more difficult to create majorities and agreements.”

Therefore, Gracia defended politics as the basis for the building and strengthening of democracies.

He also cited inequality as a challenge for international cooperation, saying that “It’s a matter that concerns us all, a great universal problem. … That is contrary to the stability of countries, of the middle class.”

He also spoke of the lack of security as “something else that will have to be worked on in the future to provide quality to democracy.”

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