A Guyanese man was arrested after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers discovered cocaine valued US$67,000 hidden in footwear, at the John F Kennedy International Airport, New York.
He was subsequently turned over to Homeland Security.
According to the CBP agency, the man arrived on a flight from Georgetown, Guyana via Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on February 9, 2017and wasabout to ‘walk’ past officers, but was stopped.
During the course of the inspection, CBP officers discovered four pairs of sneakers and two pairs of shoes in his luggage, which contained a white powder and which tested positive for cocaine.
“This latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances,” said Robert E Perez, New York Field Operations Director.
The Guyanese man now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York.
Activist and Community Board Member Richard David officially launched his campaign to be the Council Member in District 28 through a video released on social media today.
Richard, inspired by President Barack Obama’s call to action in 2008, got involved asmentor to boys and girls of colour in Southeast Queens.
Richard attended Public Schools and started working at age 13; his first job was at the South Queens Boys & Girls Club(now known as BGC of Metro Queens)
He graduated from Hunter College, where he organised student actions on campus as President of the WISE Club.
After working for a few years, he went back to school and earned his Master’s degree from New York University. To pay for college, Richard held multiple jobs,
developing a work ethic that has continued to influence his life.
Richard was proud to graduate both cumlaude and debt free.
He maintained robust ties in the community even while working and going to school by engaging with religious, civic, and business associations. He was the youngest member of Community Board 9, where he remains active nine years later.
Richard has over ten years of experience in government and will use this know how to improve his district.
His first fulltime job was at the NYC Economic Development Corporation where he became Vice President after eight years. In this role, Richard helped community organisations across the five boroughs to fundraiser and build modern space for residents including quality senior centers, sensitive cultural spaces, new job training facilities and nurturing afterschool centers for young people to thrive.
Richard then became Executive Director at the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, where he oversaw a citywide campaign to lower the cost of public transportation for working families.
Currently, he is Chief of Staff at a child welfare organisation protecting the most vulnerable, our kids. He does not remain on the sidelines when it comes to fighting for what’s right; he jumps into the ring. One of hisproudest accomplishments is cofounding a nonprofit in 2010 to bring resources into Southeast Queens. Today, it’s one of the leading social justice organisations in Council District 28 and in New York City.
Richard was raised by a single mother who is his role model. He is the youngest of three brothers.
“Local government has been virtually absent in my district for several years now. Our residents have been locked out of vital decisions, we do not have a respected voice fighting to bring more resources into the community and our quality of life has decreased. We need a fresh start with a Council Member who can make government work for all of us, with bright, new ideas. I have worked in government for over 10 years and I have been a leading advocate for the community foreven longer. I’m ready to work hard to deliverreal results.Now, more than ever,
this is the kind of change we need”, says Richard David
The Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM’s) continued inability to expedite meaningful integration, and effectively implement the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME) is putting the future of the Caribbean economies in jeopardy, according to President David Granger.
The Head of State was at the time addressing the opening of the Twenty-Eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, at the Marriott Hotel on Thursday morning. morning.
According to GINA, President Granger, the current chairman of CARICOM, said that if the Caribbean is to escape the hazard of economic emasculation in today’s global environment, then it must expedite the full implementation of the CSME.
“We face threats that include dampened demand for our goods and services, and distortions in our financial sectors caused by de-risking by international banks.The CSME has the potential to enhance private sector growth and competitiveness by providing access to a larger pool of resources, facilitating the movement of human capital, catalysing the establishment of regional businesses and encouraging the free movement of goods. The CSME must not be allowed to become a victim of equivocation and procrastination,” the President said.
Also addressing the opening of the conference, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin La Rocque said that the CSME was the best vehicle to promote the region’s overall economic growth and development.
La Rocque noted that the majority of the regional member states have been grappling with low growth and as a consequence, pressure ontheir fiscal position. Further, the efforts to combat these challenges have been hampered by the foreign banks de-risking, and the continuing damaging effects of climatic events, La Rocque observed. He said that pursuing the course of action to emerge from that position is therefore of paramount importance. “I contend that dealing with those and other challenges demand that we work more than ever collectively and that we pool our resources,” he said, reiterating the call for the full implementation of the CSME.
In the past few years, the region has faced a mixed economic outlook. The vulnerability of the economies was exposed in 2016, as a new mosquito-borne virus, Zika, threatened tourism goals, and falling commodity prices impacted on the fortunes of exporters of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname.
Regional integration has long been seen as a response to protect the economies of the Caribbean from the effects and challenges from globalization, and the emergence of trade blocs. Little progress however, has been achieved under the CSME which was established since 2006 to achieve this objective. The CSME was expected to support the free movement of goods, services, skills and cross border establishment of businesses.
The CSME, crime and security and correspondent banking are among the issues that will be discussed during the two-day CARICOM Inter-Sessional Heads of Government meeting.
The Heads of Government present at the meeting will be considering a comprehensive review of the CSME, particularly how the initiative has measured to intent and expectations, and how the shortcomings might be addressed.
Government’s intention to tighten “foreign currency trade” will have destructive consequences on trade and commerce in Guyana, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has warned.
Guyana Times International understands that on Monday the Government issued a circular to Cambios and the local banking sector informing them of the regulated rates for foreign currency. However, this did not go down well with Jagdeo who lashed out at the Government, describing the move as “absolute madness.”
Jagdeo, who is an economist by profession, told this publication on Monday evening, that this move now means that Government is hastening the decline of the economy.
The circular issue will limit the spread of US dollars and other foreign currencies to a $3 bracket.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary Opposition in a statement on Monday, also stated any attempt to control the flow of foreign currency in the economy will be counterproductive and will lead to more capital flight, greater hoarding of foreign exchange and even less foreign as well as local investments.
The Party reminded that the People’s National Congress (PNC) Governments in the past had embarked upon this route before, but the outcomes were devastating.
“On the other hand, we have witnessed how the economy grew and how the Private Sector rapidly expanded in an environment of economic liberalisation and free trade,” the PPP noted.
The Party is urging the Government to stave off its plans to impose restrictions and undue regulations on the movement and circulation of foreign exchange in the economy.
“Rather than blame the Private Sector and foreign companies for the shortage of foreign currency in the country, the Government should first accept its mismanagement of the economy and recognise that the shortage of foreign currency is due not only to its incompetence but also to its regime of policies and measures which are undermining the Private Sector, destroying commerce and trade and sapping confidence from the economy – replacing it with fear, intimidation and uncertainty,” the PPP explained.
Commenting on the circular, an influential private sector operator told this publication that such a move will drive a lot of business underground as already being unfolded in the mining sector with the new taxation measures.
Government has also received scathing criticisms from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) over its announced intervention.
According to the organisation, the new regulations will only drive investors away, warning that the stated intentions of Government to introduce restrictions will specifically affect the repatriation of earnings of foreign companies operating in Guyana.
“Foreign Direct Investment in the economy has already slowed and a policy which prevents the repatriation of the earnings of these companies has the potential to move the influx of investment from a trickle to a halt,” the body noted.
The PSC also reminded that Guyana had gone down this path before with disastrous consequences to the economy.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon during a post-Cabinet press briefing announced that the Bank of Guyana, as the regulatory body for banks and non-bank cambios, was instructed to respond with stricter regulations and closer monitoring of the foreign exchange market – following reports of foreign exchange as well as foreign currency hoarding.
“The Bank of Guyana is, therefore, expected to issue a number of guidelines with regard to the new regulations and monitoring,” he said.
Harmon said these would include ensuring that exporters repatriate their export earnings at the banking system as is required and conducting close monitoring and examination of bank and non-bank cambios to maintain orderly market behaviour and stability.
According to Harmon, Finance Minister Winston Jordan was adamant that there was no foreign currency shortage but rather “disequilibrium in the market”.
President David Ganger has ordered that the parking meter fees be lowered following a meeting late Wednesday evening with city officials.
Guyana Times International was told on Wednesday evening that Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan was expected to meet with the Mayor and City Council and Smart City Solutions (SCS) to iron out the details for the lowering of the rates.
Hundreds of persons turned out again on Thursday calling for the scrapping of the project.
On Wednesday, widespread criticism continued against the highly controversial Parking Meter Project and Attorney General Basil Williams said that he believes that the current rates being charged for parking in the Capital City was over “saddling” the working class and called for it to be furthered reduced.
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Williams reminded that since his initial review of the parking meter contract, he recommended that the fees for paid parking be lowered but lamented that even the adjusted rates are too burdensome.
“I recommended that there is nothing unlawful but what they had to do was rework the figures, but even so, the reworking seems to be saddling the ordinary working class person, and I suppose they will have to have a look at that again,” he stated.
The Attorney General added that, “G$50 for 15 minutes and G$1600 a day and the workers work five days, so you multiply the $G1600 by five; I don’t think their salaries can accommodate that.”
While maintaining that he has no authority to call upon the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) or the parking meter company – Smart City Solution (SCS) – to change their rates, the Attorney General said he will be meeting with a delegation to discuss the pricing structure in light of the public outcry.
The Attorney General told media operatives that the By-laws were completely vetted and approved before Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan signed them. He explained that Minister Harmon was out of the country at the time and therefore was uninformed when he made the announcement.
Last Thursday, the Minister of State told media operatives at a post-Cabinet press briefing that “in as much as it is signed off by Minister of Communities, (the By-laws) still have to go through the process of the Attorney General vetting it and checking to ensure that it is consistent with the laws of Guyana and that the rules, which require certain levels of fairness, are all embedded in those By-laws.”
On the other hand, the public outcry against the paid parking system continues as more authorities begin to crumble to the pressure of citizens and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Opposition.
In fact, the Alliance For Change (AFC) arm of the coalition Government called for the suspension of the project. Despite refusing to support the parliamentary Opposition when it brought a motion to debate the contentious Parking Meter Project in the National Assembly, the AFC came out expressing concerns over the Georgetown Municipality overreaching its authority on a number of matters, including taxation arrangements, traffic arrangements and road ownership.
It also expressed concerns that the current arrangements do not appear to be in the best interest of the people of the city and that the handling of the project from its inception to its current stage lacks sufficient prior public consultation; is absent of transparency and of a competitive bidding process; and lacks of proper planning with regard to exemptions and the pricing and penalty structures.
Commenting briefly on the AFC position, Williams said the party is allowed to have its independent thoughts on any matter of national concern.
However, while its governing partner has made its concerns public, the A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) is yet to pronounce on the issue. Moreover, Government as a whole has not taken a stance on the issue and appeared unmoved by the public’s plights.
Marked as a unique moment in Guyana’s history, a mass protest by disgruntled taxpayers was conducted on Friday last against the Parking Meter Project. Many have already complained of the injustices meted out against them from employees of the parking meter company.
The much anticipated meeting between Government and Opposition representatives to iron out the interpretation of the Constitution with regards to the appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) got underway on Wednesday and was proven to be unfruitful.
The Opposition appointed Attorneys – Priya Manickchand and former Attorney General Anil Nandlall – met with current Attorney General Basil Williams following a proposal made by President David Granger to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, for legal minds from the two sides to meet and discuss the appointment of a GECOM Chairman.
When contacted on Wednesday, Attorney General Williams told Guyana Times Internationalthat during the meeting, he heard submissions by Nandlall and asked for some time to review the submissions in order to arrive at a proper conclusion.
“I spoke with Mr Nandlall respectfully, he made his contention and he cited authorities; and I said I’ll take what you say safely by reading the authorities and then we’ll respond to his submissions,” Williams stated.
Meanwhile, in a statement to the media, Nandlall disclosed that during the meeting, the Opposition lawyers proffered their interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution, in writing, and supported their position with a number of case law authorities from Guyana, the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.
However, Nandall pointed out that the Attorney General was “unprepared” to put forward his or the Government’s interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution, despite several requests for him to do so.
“Instead, he indicated that he will need time to interpret our contentions and prepare his response. All of the interpretations offered by us (Wednesday) were fully and publicly ventilated in the media… I am disappointed by the lack of preparedness of the Attorney General, which resulted in nothing tangible emerging from the engagement,” the former AG asserted.
Nandlall went on to say in his statement that “Quite frankly, I was hoping that the Attorney General would have been ready with his position on the matter today (Wednesday); that may have resulted in this matter being concluded with dispatch and decisively. In the meanwhile, Guyana’s democracy continues to hang in the balance.”
Moreover, Nandlall stated that the Attorney General could not identify a date for a second engagement on the issue, which the Opposition considers a matter of great national importance.
“The meeting ended with the Attorney General being unable to identify another date available in his diary for us to meet again,” he noted.
As a group of irate sugar workers who were supposed to receive their severance packages since last year protested at the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) Wales Sugar Estate, their representative union has refuted claims that definitive conclusions on the workers’ future were decided.
Speaking with Guyana Times International early Monday morning, the workers stated that they have had enough of the uncertainty over their owed payments and reiterated theirrejection to be transferred to the Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara (WCD) Estate. The frustrated workers demanded that their severance packages be paid immediately, which were reportedly promised to them since December of last year.
It was after GuySuCo’s meeting with the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) on Wednesday last, that the sugar corporation disclosed to the public that there is a demand for labour at the Uitvlugt Estate, which will start its first crop later this week. According to the workers, they were informed last week Friday that the Union reportedly agreed for employees to be transferred to Uitvlugt, but the sugar workers stressed that they are not prepared to go anywhere, citing distance as their key reason.
“It (Wales) abandoned, let we get we severance, we deserve it,” one worker told this publication.
“They give a paper Friday saying for we to go to Uitvlugt but we cannot go there,” another man indicated.
The workers further explained that they were also against the transfer, as they cannot be compelled to travel beyond 10 miles to their place of work.
“They seh they not forcing anybody to go Uitvlugt and now dem eating back dem word,” worker RahemS eepersaud noted.
Meanwhile, Michael Chotoo, who worked at Wales Estate for 25 years, explained that the 22-mile journey from Uitvlugt to Wales every day is too far for him to commute.
“From [Wales] to Uitvlugt is 22 miles, leaving out how much [more] you got to go in de backdam. You think every day a worker could travel 44 miles to go and come? What gan happen to he body?” the worker highlighted.
Chootoo further lamented that traffic also factors into the extensive travel to the West Coast Demerara Estate.
Joshua Fernandes, who worked with the Estate over 20 years, also noted that many of the workers’ plans for alternative means to earn a living are on hold. He explained that a few of his colleagues managed to secure jobs on sea and in the interior, but they are currently left at a stand-still, waiting on the sugar corporation to pay them their severance.
Fernandes also called for more representation from the workers’ representative union.
Meanwhile, GAWU in a statement on Monday professed that it was indeed “puzzled by media reports” as quoted by GuySuCo to the effect that some 650 workers from Wales Estate would take up employment at the Uitvlugt Estate.
“The Corporation’s statement, as reported, appears to be definitive, but is certainly not reflective of the discussions and conclusions reached at the GAWU-GuySuCo engagement,” GAWU stressed.
GAWU, seeking to clear the air, disclosed that at the meeting, which had taken place at the LBI Training Building on Wednesday last, the Corporation had informed the Union’s delegation that “it was seeking to have some 420 workers – cane cutters and the workers engaged in transporting the canes from the fields to the factory – taking up work at Uitvlugt Estate to augment that Estate’s labour pool.”
The Union further explained that the shop stewards “advised” the Corporation’s representatives at the meeting that they and their fellow workers were seeking to be paid severance as cane production was discontinued at the Wales Estate. The Union also noted that the parties agreed to engage the 420 workers on the Corporation’s proposals tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday. The Union also corroborated allegations the workers disclosed to this newspaper that Management at Wales reportedly instructed the cane cutters to take up duties at Uitvlugt.
In early 2016, Guyana Times broke the news of Government’s intention to close the Wales Factory. Shortly afterwards, Government confirmed the end of sugar operations at Wales Estate, citing cost as the main factor for closure. It was later disclosed that rice will be planted as part of the diversification plan, but it remains unclear when the first rice crop will be reaped.
The Mayor of Guyana’s second most populous municipality, the town of Linden, will on Saturday February 4, apprise Lindeners in New York City of plans to twin Newark City, New Jersey with his town, as well as on his agenda to create jobs and redevelop the industrial town.
According to a statement issued by the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID), Mayor Carwyn Holland is expected to be joined by his Newark counterpart, Guyana’s Consul General to New York, Mrs. Barbara Atherly and Brooklyn elected officials, at a town hall meeting on Saturday, February 4, 2017, in Brooklyn.
He will also meet with Newark City officials on Monday, February 6, to finalize twinning arrangements. Mayor Holland will be accompanied by Ms. Tandika Miller, CEO of the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN), a development fund which provides capital for business creation and expansion in Linden.
In a statement Wednesday, Mayor Holland said “Twinning Newark with Linden is consequential for Linden’s economic renaissance and development. This City to City partnership will foster new cultural and economic cooperation; create new prospects for business investments to sustain Linden’s economic viability, help create much needed jobs for young people and engender social transformation and prosperity for Lindeners. I’m excited about this historic prospect.”
During the 2016 celebration of Guyana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, Newark Mayor, Ras Baraka, embraced a vision for twinning Newark with Linden, following representations from Mr. Bernard Rollins, Chairman of Newark’s Caribbean Commission, and other Guyanese Leaders in New Jersey. Mayor Baraka’s assent, harbingered negotiations for a City to City partnership to foster the mutual development interests of Newark and Linden. The ceremonial twinning is envisioned for February or March 2017.
Guyana’s second town other than its capital, Georgetown City, Linden is also the capital of Guyana’s Upper Demerara-Berbice Administrative region. The industrial, bauxite based town, which hugs the Demerara River, became a municipality in 1970, the same year Guyana became a Republic.
Newark, New Jersey’s largest population center, with a population of 278,000, is the 70th largest city in the US and the second largest in the New York metropolitan area. Newark is 8 miles from central Manhattan, New York City, and houses the seat of the Essex county government. Newark is also a main air, shipping and railway hub in the US. The City and its surrounding towns have a significant Caribbean population. Neighboring East Orange is home to the second largest Guyanese population in the US.
Linden, which has the highest unemployment rate in Guyana, experienced a painful economic recession when precipitous reductions in world market prices for bauxite triggered a significant contraction of the bauxite industry in the 1990s.
Holland, 32, who was elected in 2015 by pushing a pro-growth agenda, unveiled a plan to attract large-scale new business and manufacturing companies to generate employment for thousands of unemployed Lindeners. A highway from Brazil to Linden is under construction.
Guyanese were among the thousands who joined the protests against President Donald Trump’s latest Executive Order barring immigrants from specified Islamic countries from entering the United States. The Order also allows for the detention of immigrants (including refugees) or refusal of entry (regardless of status) into the US even if they have valid visas or green cards.
There were protests all over the US on Saturday and Sunday against the entrance ban and detention of Muslim immigrants from selected countries. The action has been condemned by prominent global figures and it is considered illegal in some quarters.
A judge in Brooklyn Federal High Court issued a temporary restraining order staying the ban till a hearing. Apparently, the President’s Executive Order canceled the visas of many who were already on flights en route to the US, and as such they could not have gotten clearance to enter the country. Thus, they were detained.
Protests erupted spontaneously on Saturday at JFK where immigrants were kept in detention and being sent back on flights to their countries of origin. If those being held in detention are incorrectly returned to their flights of origin or denied due process, the US government will have to pay their costs of return to the US as per past precedents.
The rally at JFK Terminal 4 started at noon with a handful of protesters and by evening it had hit thousands overcrowding the airport’s train and terminal. Hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters had to be turned away. Train service was halted at one time. But NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the restoration of train service saying the protesters must have their voices heard. Security was very tight inside the airport as the terminals became overcrowded.
Several Indo-Caribbeans joined the protests with one Guyana flag being waved high in the huge crowd; Dr. Dhanpaul Narine waved the flag. A large banner with a logo of SADHANA, a NGO comprising of Indo-Guyanese and South Asians, was held up by two Indo-Caribbean females at the rally condemning the targeting of Muslims by the Trump administration.
Immigration lawyers have been volunteering their service to represent those in detention. A Hispanic member of the New York City Council promised the council will join the fight until every detained immigrant is released.