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St. Vincent & The Grenadines

President of Cuba arrives in St Vincent and the Grenadines for three-day visit

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President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived in St Vincent and the Grenadines earlier today for an official three-day visit, from December 3 to 5, 2022.

President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel on the saluting dais as he receives a musical salute at the Argyle International Airport. At his left is Governor General Dame Susan Dougan. (API photo)

In what is being described as a “working visit”, the President and his delegation were welcomed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, members of Cabinet, Parliamentarians and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

President Diaz-Canel was taken on a guided tour of the AIA including of the Interpretation Centre which documents the construction of the airport in which Cuba, under the leadership of the late President Fidel Castro played an instrumental role.(API photo)

The President was taken on a guided tour of the Argyle International Airport (AIA); this country’s largest capital project, of which Cuba played an instrumental role both financial and technically in its construction.

During the tour, the delegates visited the AIA Interpretation Centre, which documents in photos and text the construction of the AIA.

President of Cuba during the construction of AIA, the late Fidel Castro, along with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the late Patrick Manning, former President of Trinidad and Tobago, formed part of what Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves termed “the Coalition of the Willing” in ensuring the completion of the construction of the airport.

Girl Guides were among the uniformed groups who turned out to welcome the President. (API photo)

During the welcome ceremony for today’s historic visit, His Excellency Miguel Diaz-Canel was also greeted by pupils of different primary schools, the Cadet Corps, the Girl Guides and the South East Steel Orchestra.

The President and his delegation will, over the next few days engage Prime Minister Dr the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves and members of Cabinet in a series of meetings, courtesy calls, including an address during a special sitting of Parliament. (API)





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Pharmaceutical Association elects new executive

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The St Vincent and the Grenadines Pharmaceutical Association (SVGPA Inc), has elected a new executive to handle its affairs for the next two years.

The executive, which was elected on January 31, comprises pharmacists from both the private and public sector. The new executive committee is headed by Colicia Mingo as president and also comprises: Stephern Lewis, vice-president; Kemesha Nanton, secretary; Onika Gittens, treasurer; Lisa Licorish, assistant secretary/treasurer; and committee members in Tricia De Shong and Judith Sayers.





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St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Serious Offences Court now a ‘gun court’ – Chief Magistrate Browne

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by Kemarlie Durrant

Just one month into the year 2023, and the Serious Offences Court has seen over 10 new gun related charges for the month of January after the country experienced its highest crime rate last year.

Chief magistrate, Rechanne Browne presides over the Serious Offences Court and she is of the opinion that her court has become a ‘gun court’ this new year.

“For the year I think there has been a gun related offence in this court every day. I think I am operating a gun court for the year…”, the chief magistrate said when she sentenced 18-year-old Joel Williams.

Williams was charged for having in his possession one Glock .27 semi-automatic pistol, and five rounds of ammunition.

She also highlighted the issue when, one day after Williams received a non-custodial sentence, another 18-year-old, Jermaine Andrews, appeared in the court on firearms offence.

During his submissions for Andrews, prosecutor station sergeant, Renrick Cato said, “I’m asking the court that the sentence that is imposed- a strong message must be sent to persons who are in possession of an illegal firearm or who have intention of obtaining an illegal firearm.”

He added, “today is January 25, and I am sure that more than 10 new firearm matters came to this court and the month is not finished yet”.

During every sentencing the magistrate highlights the prevalence of firearm offences in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as aggravating factors of the offences. On one occasion she described the prevalence of firearm offences as “too rampant.”

The year 2022 was a record breaking year in SVG for the number of homicides, 42.

The year with the previous highest was 2016 when 40 homicides were recorded.

The majority of those murders were as a result of the use of a gun.

Prosecutor, corporal Shamrack Pierre on January 6 told the court, “ 2022 was one of the bloodiest years in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the majority of those homicides were using firearms. We don’t manufacture firearms in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“ The question is, where are they coming from?” the prosecutor asked during his submissions regarding the sentencing of Jomodean Alexander and Kevin Lewis who were both sentenced to three years on firearm and ammunition.

Before the chief magistrate sentenced Alexander and Lewis she said, “We have choices, and in the end, it is the choices that we make that affect us. I sit here often and I’m saddened because for the year, I’ve seen no female making any such choices…they are not coming here, but the young, strong men are often here based on their choices.”

Browne has given officers praise for their vigilance when these offenders are taken before the court.

The maximum penalty for possession of an unlicensed firearm in SVG is a fine of $20,000, or seven-years imprisonment.

Lawyer, Grant Connell who has represented a number of the defendants on gun charges is of the view that jail is not always the best answer.

“We need to fix St. Vincent, and fixing St. Vincent does not start by filling our jails,” Connell said during his plea mitigation for Jermaine Andrews last Wednesday.

The lawyer had also asked the court on January 6, to impose a fine on his client, Jomodean Alexander. He said that filling the prisons would not stop firearms from entering the country.

During that sentencing Connell had joined the magistrate in commending Sergeant 403 Nigel John, and his squad of Rapid Response Unit (RRU) officers, who made the arrest of Alexander and Kevin Lewis during a stop and search.

“So, when the Prime Minister says put more boots on the ground, you can’t put no comedy boots. Put more boots like them,” Connell said.

“It is not quantity. It’s quality. No sense mek ah phone call and send Tom Jones for training and the police training a whole set ah dem, and half ah dem incompetent,” the lawyer added.

Joel Williams was the only defendant to escape a prison sentence on his gun charges after the magistrate said she was leaning to comments made by Chief of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),Justice Janice Pereira at the opening of the new law year that “A regime of punishment is not always the answer, but the restoration of young lives.”

Williams was fined and given specific orders by the court to enrol in a plumbing course and attend youth meetings weekly at the New Birth Christian Soldiers. He will be re assessed by the court after nine months. The chief magistrate also made it known that each case will not be treated in the same manner, but rather, each has to be assessed on its own merit.





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Police constable charged with dangerous driving

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A police officer who is a driver attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has found himself with a suspended license and a traffic case before the courts.

Police constable, Joyron Hull of Green Hill is no longer able to drive, and if he is found guilty of the traffic offence of which he ais charged, he may also find himself out of pocket, or worse.

Hull’s misery stems from footage of a blue minivan on the North Union public road which is seen taking a corner at what appears to be a high speed and ending up on two wheels as persons run into the road to record, using mobile devices.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, constable Hull was issued with a letter signed by the Commissioner of Police (COP), Colin John notifying him that his driving permit has been suspended by virtue of the authority vested in the Commissioner of Police, and the Licensing Authority in accordance with the Motor Vehicles
0and Road Traffic Act, Chapter 483, Section 51 (1) of the Revised Edition of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) 2009.

After Hull received the letter, he was charged with driving motor vehicle HR-981 in a dangerous manner on January 26, 2023 at the North Union Public Road.

There are also several other recordings of minivans travelling at what appears to be high speeds that police say they are investigating.

On Monday, January 30,a caller to Hot 97.1 FM’s AM Mayhem morning show took blame for the driving seen in the video recording.

He said he normally takes that corner “hard”, and on the day in question when he realized he was on two wheels, he quickly “corrected” and as a result averted a crash.

“I couldn’t just let it go over the bank,” the male voice said.

But after the comments, the hosts of the radio show commented that they did not believe the caller was the driver of the minibus in the recording.





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