THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
PRIME MINISTER ANDREW HOLNESS INTENDS TO MOVE JAMAICA QUICKLY TO REPUBLICANISM
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has repeated his intention to remove British King Charles III as the nation’s head of state and to change its status to that of a republic. Holness made his intentions known at a reception in St. James in response to reports that delays in decisions about who will serve on the Constitutional Reform Committee had stalled the status change. Holness said that it is time for Jamaica to become a republic, but the fact that the process is not simple has been known from the start. In June 2022, the government announced that it would take steps to become a republic by 2025, and Holness emphasized this is a priority for him.
OPPOSITION PEOPLE’S NATIONAL PARTY CONCERNED ABOUT FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMISSION
Jamaica’s People’s National Party (PNP), the Opposition party, has expressed concern about the ability of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to provide effective regulatory control of companies like Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL). The concerns arose after the disclosure of a massive fraud committed by a former financial adviser that SSL and the disappearance of millions of dollars from the investment funds of several individuals, including Olympic medalist Usain Bolt. The Opposition noted that it has become clear that the FSC has had “grave concerns” about the operations of SSL for some time and called for the FSC to disclose the steps it took to address the issues of concern. The PNP claims that the concerns were ignored and represent a failure of regulatory oversight by the commission.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
GOVERNMENT OF DUTCH ST. MAARTEN APPROVES EXTERMINATION OF HUNDREDS OF VERVET MONKEYS
The Dutch island territory of St. Maarten in the eastern Caribbean has given its approval to exterminate an entire population – at least 450 – of vervet monkeys living in the territory. The controversial plan will be implemented to eliminate the invasive species of monkey that has become a nuisance. The Nature Foundation St. Maarten NGO will receive funds to capture and euthanize the monkeys over the next three years. According to Leslie Hickerson, manager of the Foundation, species management represents a critical aspect of maintaining the island’s health. Critics of the plan believe that sterilization and management of the environment should be considered instead of extermination. The population of vervet monkeys has increased significantly since they were introduced to the region in the 17th century by Europeans who kept them as pets. Farmers have complained about the monkeys raiding crops and destroying their livelihoods.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
CUBAN-JAMAICANS FEEL THEY ARE A “FORGOTTEN” DIASPORA GROUP
Cuban-Jamaicans want to be able to participate more in the engagement of the Jamaican Diaspora. According to Yamile Hall, the head of the Jamaican Overseas Club in Cuba, Cuban-Jamaicans in the Diaspora are closest to Jamaica, but feel like a “forgotten community.” The Club has 5,700 members. Many Cuban-Jamaicans who are descendants of Jamaicans currently live in Cuba and want to know more about their ancestors. However, they have been met with challenges when attempting to do so. She hopes that the Jamaican government can help and support the Jamaican descendants in Cuba by making efforts to contact them, providing access to records, facilitating interaction with the community, and starting a process for accepting requests for citizenship.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
LICENSE OF INVESTMENT COMPANY AT CENTER OF MASSIVE FRAUD WAS NEVER SUSPENDED BY AUTHORITY
According to Jamaica’s Financial Services Commission (FSC), the license of Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) has never been suspended. Questions have arisen about the FSC’s oversight of SSL, the center of a fraud scandal involving the disappearance of millions of dollars from client accounts, including $12 million that disappeared from the account of sprint icon Usain Bolt after it became known that the FSC had labeled SSL “a problem institution” as far back as 2017. SSL was also accused by the FSC of operating “a culture of non-compliance and mismanagement” of its clients’ funds. SSL reported a fraud of $3 billion to the FSC on January 10, 2023, following a statement from a former employee on January 7.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
REGGAE MONTH ACTIVITIES TO APPEAL TO BROAD RANGE OF CONSUMERS
A new festival marketplace on Kingston’s waterfront will be part of February’s Reggae Month of 2023. The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) plans to create a cultural hub for Jamaica’s residents, Jamaican Diaspora members, and tourists. Jamaica’s government declared February to be the official Reggae Month in 2008, and since then JaRIA has held its events at Emancipation Park and the Ranny Williams Entertainment Center. The festival marketplace, which will function in addition to the events and activities held throughout the island, is meant to “sell the best of reggae” to a wide audience and is being implemented through a partnership with the Urban Development Corporation to attract and involve everyone, including craft vendors. Reggae Month 2023 activities begin on February 1 and will showcase entertainment and creative industries that provide cultural presentations of the center of reggae music.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JAMAICA U20 WOMEN’S RELAY RECORD RATIFIED BY WORLD ATHLETICS
The records set by Jamaica’s women’s 4×100-meter sprint relay in 2022 at the World Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, were ratified by World Athletics, the sport’s governing body. The Jamaican team comprising Serena Cole, Tina Clayton, Kerrica Hill, and Tia Clayton ran a record time of 42.59 seconds, 0.35 seconds faster than the previous record, also set by the Jamaican team in 2021 at the World U20 Championships in Kenya. Another team from Jamaica that utilized Brianna Lyston on the relay’s third leg instead of Hill had a faster time of 42.58 seconds at the CARIFTA Games in Kingston in 2022, but it had not been ratified due to errors made by Jamaican authorities.