“We will believe it when we see it”

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Sun Dominica

Portsmouth residents and businessmen react to the Budget-announced replacement of Ross University School of Medicine

Despite many Portsmouth residents and business owners expressing a feeling of abandonment by the government and frustration over the lack of economic activities in the north, the latest news of yet another replacement for Ross University is being taken with a pinch of salt.

August 4, 2022, marked the fourth anniversary since Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit delivered the heart-wrenching news to the nation that the offshore American educational facility, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), had pulled out of Dominica after 40 years, and would instead shift its operations to Barbados.

Four years on, the business community in Portsmouth still longs for a miracle, the return of Ross as the pain of its departure still lingers.

Delivering a semblance of hope in this year’s budget, the nation’s leader indicated that a new medical school will soon commence operation in Portsmouth.

“Mr. Speaker, since the departure of Ross University, Government has received several expressions of interest to establish a medical school at that facility. I am pleased to announce that after several months of negotiations, the Government has entered into an agreement with CSOM Holdings Limited for the operation of a medical school at the former Ross University Campus at Picard which will be named the American Canadian School of Medicine,” Skerrit stated.

The school, he said, will offer a 4-year medical degree (MD) designed for students who have already completed bachelor’s degrees and will be run by an experienced team of doctors who have held positions at major universities in the United States including a former Vice President of Operations of the RUSM.

Initial preparations for a September 2023 commencement have started and will accelerate over the next few months, Skerrit said.

Residents of Portsmouth are skeptical

While the Prime Minister urged all Dominicans to be prepared for the opportunities which will be created with the return of a medical school and expressed his optimism over the university’s potential, Portsmouth resident and businessman, Pat Corbette says, “we will believe it when we see it.”

“This is not the first announcement we have heard about a replacement for Ross,” he told The Sun in an exclusive interview. “Yes, we would like to see something happen because the place is just sitting closed like a big white elephant but I’m not getting too excited. I have adopted a wait-and-see policy like many others.”

Following RUSM’s departure, the Prime Minister made several pronouncements promising replacements, the first of those in 2018 when he stated that four parties had shown interest in utilizing the government-owned facility in Portsmouth to operate a medical school in Dominica.

On November 25, 2020, the Dominica University & School of Medicine (DUSM) revealed that it had taken over the compound and commenced classes for the Doctor of Medicine degree. The university also mentioned plans for the commencement of face-to-face classes but said such had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to medicine, the DUSM revealed that it is also offering degree programmes in nursing and pharmacy as well as courses in forensic science and medical marijuana.

One month later, in December 2022, Skerrit publicly stated that his government was not ruling out the option of terminating their relationship with DUSM as they were experiencing “some issues” with the investor in terms of the approach that has been taken in the past.

The Prime Minister said his Cabinet will make a decision on this sooner rather than later and provide an opportunity for a second group.

With no word to the nation on his Cabinet’s decision, in October 2021, following a visit to the UAE and Pakistan, Skerrit disclosed the interest of yet another university in replacing RUSM.

Other attempts at replacing Ross

Although the Prime Minister did not specifically indicate if an agreement had been made with any institution an article from a Pakistani news outlet indicated that the MOU was signed by a delegation headed by Emmanuel Nanthan with Dato’ Gail Phung, Limkokwing University’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for the establishment of Rawal International University Dominica in Dominica. To date no word on this arrangement.

While many wait with bated breath for the new university, the American Canadian School of Medicine, Corbette expressed a sense of hopelessness which, according to him, is reflected in the hundreds of people in Picard and Portsmouth whose economic earnings have been severely impacted for the past four years.

“It has been devastating since Ross left. Yes, we get one or two persons willing to rent our apartments but after a month they can’t pay and we the landlords often find ourselves chasing people around to get our monies. So, things have been a real mess and a tough, tough road. I like many others, we are just hanging in by a very thin thread.”

Portsmouth needs relief

Similar sentiments were echoed by another Portsmouth resident and businessman, Sean Douglas who said that he too is skeptical of the Prime Minister’s latest pronouncement.

He pointed out that if the American Canadian School of Medicine does begin operation in 2023, this does not signal instant economic relief for the people of Portsmouth.

“When Ross arrived in 1978, it took them over a decade before things really kicked off because they only started with less than a dozen students. When this new school comes, we can’t expect any major economic benefit for many, many years. It will take time and the people who have not recovered from Ross’ departure will continue to suffer,” Douglas asserted.

The former Press Secretary in the Skerrit administration posited that the Portsmouth constituency which has been a stronghold for the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) for the past 65 years has been left “penniless and impoverished” by the party they stand devoted to.

He said that their economic struggles as a result of the departure of RUSM have been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We feel deserted,” Douglas said. “I am a business person and I can tell you I have seen business revenue fall for many people including myself. During the pandemic, a lot of people were employed at the Covid-19 centre which provided some sought of relief but now that the centres are closed, employment is again on the rise in the north and others who are working are doing so for poverty wages.”

Compared to the capital city of Roseau, Douglas said, Dominica’s second town has been given little to no attention by the DLP and fed false promises.

“When Val ferry came we were told that the people of Portsmouth would gain significantly, we have the Morocco Hotel which is completed as far as we know and it is yet to be opened. There is also the Anichi hotel, which was started and is yet to be completed. So we in Portsmouth at this time we wait to see what will happen, as our fingers are being burnt so often.”

For the business, the community which once thrived from economic activities “is now submerged below sea level.”

-By Ronalda Luke


Late Lineup

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Sun Dominica

Delay in naming the artists who will be performing at the 2022 World Creole Music Festival is causing problems for fans

Diasporan Alick Massicott says that buying a ticket to travel home for the fest at this time without having a single idea of who the scheduled artist is, “is like making plans to go on a blind date,” a statement fellow diasporan Ian Prosper agrees with.

According to the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) devotee who presently resides in Texas, for the past decade since he’s been away, he usually buys his plane ticket only after the lineup is announced. However, given the delay in this year’s launch, he’s stuck on whether he should proceed with his festival ritual or simply skip this year altogether.

“I am conflicted,” he told the Sun, “I would hate to make travel arrangements at this time not knowing who is going to perform or if the festival is still on.”

“Part of me says to do it, but another part is telling me to wait some more to see if they’re really going to be a strong lineup this year or if it will be a repeat of the same old artist we’re used to seeing, which might be the case.”

Similar comments have also been expressed by Allenna Benjamin, who revealed that she’s selected her outfits for the three events since the end of April, but refused to have them shipped without knowing who the artist who is scheduled to perform at this year’s show is.

“They really need to come out and tell us who is on the lineup because that is driving me insane,” the young “fete-lover” stated.

Others like Malik Louis are confused as to why he’s been seeing more promotions for the Carnival 2023, instead of the WCMF 2022.

“I’m a bit disappointed because we did not have the festival for two years, so I certainly do believe that by now we should be getting some type of update of what we can expect, who the artist is, the cost for the tickets because October is almost here,” he told the Sun.
Unreleased DFC survey

In previous years, by mid-June to July, the Dominica Festival Committee (DFC) would have already launched the event which has become a staple on the independence calendar.

When questioned on why the lineup has yet to be announced, a source closely linked to the planning committee pointed to a change of management with many of the Kompa bands.

“It’s been a bit difficult getting in contact with them, so that has caused a few delays” the individual who spoke to the Sun on the usual condition of anonymity stated. “Nevertheless this year promises to be great.”

While breaking the news of the return of the festival back in April, Minister for Tourism, Denis Charles, revealed that a survey will soon be launched to get the public engaged with regard to the selection of the bands and artists they would like to see play at this year’s festival.

“We will be trying a different approach for more public engagement in the decision making,” Charles stated. “Behind the wheels, we are already putting our plans in place… finalising.”

Attempts made by the Sun to speak to DFC officials on the public survey as well as the lineup were unsuccessful.
Heeding the advice of health officials, in 2020, the tourism minister announced the cancellation of the three nights of “pulsating rhythms” which is known to attract a large number of patrons from across the region and returning Dominicans.

At the time, she highlighted the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason for calling off what would have been the 22nd edition of the festival.

In 2021, prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit, during his weekly programme, revealed that the cabinet had set aside 400 thousand dollars for the staging of WCMF which would feature only local artists, but that too had to be canceled due to an upsurge in local COVID-19 cases.

First held in October 1997, the festival was launched to complement Dominica’s annual Independence Celebrations, promote the Dominican tourism product, and create a world-class platform for indigenous Dominican music.

The now renowned staple event on the regional music gala calendar typically features an array of unique music from across the globe including Dance Hall, Zouk, Reggae, Soca, Soukous, Kompa, and Calypso, to name a few.

The event features three nights of music – from dusk to dawn – during the last weekend in October.

At the time of press on Monday, August 8th, no announcement had been made on when the festival would officially be launched.


Social Protection Board works with our communities to improve children’s lives

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” was on full display today as the Social Protection Board donated school supplies to the most vulnerable families in our community that are beneficiaries of the Board.

This is how the Social Protection Board works with our communities to improve children’s lives.The Board provided school supplies and shoes to vulnerable children to enrich the educational opportunities for the students, parents and communities throughout Antigua and Barbuda.

Minister of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development and the Blue Economy was present along with Board Chairperson, Mrs Baltimore and staff members of the Social Protection Board.




Ministry of Health responds to Observer article re: Nurses at Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment is aware of an article published in the Observer newspaper dated September 1, 2022 re: Nurses at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) and wish to set the record straight from the Ministry’s perspective.

The article falsely claims that “A Ministry of Health spokeswoman declined to comment”.

The Ministry wishes to make it known that the person Observer reached out to for a comment was the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ena Dalso-Henry and at no time, did Mrs. Dalso-Henry decline to comment.

As a matter of fact, when the Observer reporter reached out to the Permanent Secretary, she indicated as P.S, she is not involved in any nursing decision at the hospital.  She further stated that the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre is managed by a Board of Directors and not by the Permanent Secretary; the reporter then indicated that she understood. Further, the Permanent Secretary indicated to the reporter that there is also a Nursing Director that may be able to assist her. (See photo attached)

As a result of the SLBMC being managed by a board, the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment is not responsible for the decisions and policies set by the institution.  The Permanent Secretary therefore, does not have oversight for the SLBMC.

The Ministry however understands that a meeting is scheduled with the Board and Management of the SLBMC and the Association which represents the Nurses, the Antigua Barbuda Nurses Association.

We are therefore asking that a correction be made for the false information published in the said article.



Mayor: Wrecking to return to Port of Spain by year-end

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


File photo

Traffic congestion caused by illegal parking will persist in Port of Spain, as no date has been set for wrecking to resume.

The problem will be exacerbated by the start of the new school year on September 5.

Amidst the covid19 lockdowns, wrecking in Port of Spain was halted.

Mayor Joel Martinez had planned to resume wrecking on June 21. Asked why it has not yet restarted, he said, “We are still awaiting advice from the Ministry of Local Government – advice based on the process, how we are going to go about wrecking, what steps we will take when we resume.

“We have had discussions with the Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT), Traffic Management Division, Ministry of National Security (and the) Commissioner of Police. “

Martinez remained hopeful that it will resume before year-end and insisted, “We will come to a better position on it in short notice.

“Many people are concerned about the lack of wrecking. I get requests every day about indiscriminate parking throughout the city. There have been requests from ministries, about blocked passageways.”

Parking on corners and blocking fire hydrants also cause problems.

In the past Martinez had proposed parking meters as an alternative or complement to wrecking.

“Parking meters were supposed to be a pilot project a couple years ago.”

Like other initiatives, it failed to get off the ground because of covid.

Martinez said,”We still await the MoWT to tell us if we are going to go ahead and put parking meters in the city, but it is not in my purview.”

He said there had also been groups opposed to resuming wrecking, but could not name any specifically.


Rachel Bhagwandeen’s funeral set for Saturday

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


The funeral of 11-year-old Rachel Bhagwandeen is set for Saturday at her family’s home in Freeport. She will be buried in San Fernando.

Her father, pastor Kelvin Bhagwandeen, 47, of the New Beginning House of Praise in Chaguanas, said the body had not yet been released to the family. The father of four intends to officiate at the funeral of his daughter, who died after being mauled by a dog.

On Thursday afternoon, Bhagwandeen told Newsday no autopsy had been done yet.

“We were hoping to get her body today, but…there was a mix-up about where the autopsy would be done, and that was sorted out today. It would be done at the (San Fernando General Hospital’s) mortuary.”

Bhagwandeen, his wife Seema Bhagwandeen, and other relatives were initially told the autopsy would be done at the Forensic Sciences Centre in St James.

On August 25, Rachel was mauled by a dog while visiting relatives at Solomon Street in Vistabella. She and her nine-year-old brother Jaylon were watching television when the mixed breed American Bull/ American Bully dog, Buddy, entered the bedroom.

She pushed Jaylon to the door and told him to run for his life before the attack. He alerted his mother, who rushed to try to save her.

The Vistabella Presbyterian School student died in the house.

Rachel was due to sit the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination next year.

Her mother and other relatives hailed her as a heroine for protecting her brother.

The day after the killing, relatives told Newsday a vet had put the mixed-breed dog to sleep.

Asked for confirmation, Bhagwandeen said from what he was told, the dog was supposed to be put down.

But he added, “I saw an article on Facebook saying the dog is alive. I am not sure. I can’t say, but I am hoping not. If it hasn’t been put down already, it needs to be, given the situation and what has happened.”


Equity Ministry Bemoans Senseless Acts Of Violence In Saint Lucia – St. Lucia Times News

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

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Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment Hon. Joachim Henry is again lamenting the callous view of, and lack of appreciation for life, exhibited largely by the nation’s youth, that he says has resulted in the wanton and senseless acts of crime and violence in Saint Lucia.

The Minister’s comments come on the heels of mounting incidents of gun and other violent crimes that have so far left a significant number of Saint Lucians dead.

According to Minister Henry, “As a nation, we desperately need to remind the people who are engaging in these senseless acts of violence that LIFE, as we know it, is naturally short for all of us and that we are only making it even shorter when we constantly turn to the gun and cutlass and other violent means to resolve conflict.”

Minister Henry reflected on the relatively small population of the island and bemoaned the fact that as a country, so many of the nation’s promising individuals with the capacity to contribute meaningfully to society, were being cut short due to needless and senseless acts of violence.

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“We are not a large population. On the world scene there are just a few of us here on island and a handful in the diaspora. We are not a nation at war for gold, oil, other natural resources or at conflict with other nations. Based on that fact, the killings we are witnessing on an almost daily basis are absolutely not necessary and must stop,” stated Henry.

As Minister with responsibility for Ecclesiastical Affairs, Minister Henry went on to underscore the precious nature of life, noting that, “Life is a gift from God, and that humans were not created to take the lives of other humans.”

Minister Henry again called on all in society to learn to resolve conflicts and differences without the use of violence.

He said his Ministry will continue to spare no effort at designing and implementing social interventions that will steer people and the most vulnerable in society away from crime and violence.

SOURCE: Ministry for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment. Headline photo: Stock image.

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Policía arresta a Panda, líder de la organización criminal, a su armero y su banquero que operaban en Arecibo

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Radio Isla TV

El Negociado de la Policía Puerto Rico logró el jueves el arresto de Jonathan Serrano Martínez, alías Panda, líder de una organización criminal a la que se le atribuye crímenes violentos, expendio de drogas y tráfico de armas en la zona de Arecibo.

Según la Policía, mientras un equipo de agentes intervenía en el escondite de “Panda”, de manera simultánea otros dos hicieron lo propio en la residencia del armero que custodiaba un arsenal de la organización y en el hogar del banquero quien tenia a cargo guardar las ganancias de la actividad delictiva.

Los arrestos se produjeron luego del diligenciamiento de tres órdenes de allanamiento, por parte de los Negociados de Drogas e Inteligencia de la Superintendencia Auxiliar en Operaciones Especiales, en los barrios Sabana Hoyos y Bajadero de Arecibo.

A Serrano Martínez, de 40 años, se le ocupó un rifle, una pistola Glock modificada para disparar automáticamente, varios cargadores y municiones. Además, se incautó parafernalia, cocaína, marihuana, un chaleco antibalas con las iniciales de la D.E.A. y un jacket con el símbolo de policía falsificado.

En el segundo allanamiento, se arrestó a Alex González Moreno, de 48 años, considerado por la Uniformada como el banquero, el cual es socio de Serrano Martínez y se le ocupó una gran cantidad pastillas y aproximadamente 15,000 en efectivo.

Mientras que, a Joel Arnaldo Rivera Olmo, de 38 años, el armero de la organización criminal, se le ocupó cuatro rifles, dos escopetas, dos pistolas, una UZI y un revolver.

Los casos serán consultados con la fiscalía de Arecibo y agencias federales correspondientes para la radicación de cargos.


Gobernador no sabe si se le han dañado enseres en la Fortaleza por culpa de apagones de LUMA

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Radio Isla TV

El gobernador Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia dijo el jueves que no sabe si se han dañado enseres y equipos electrónicos en La Fortaleza a causa de los apagones del sistema de transmisión y distribución energética que opera LUMA Energy.

“Bueno, yo no puedo certificar si se han dañado o no. Puede ser que se hayan dañado. La Fortaleza es mi residencia oficial, pero es una dependencia muy grande en la que pueden dañarse enseres, yo no puedo certificarte si ese ha sido el caso o no”, dijo el gobernador en conferencia de prensa.

“Aquí sí tenemos una planta eléctrica para mantener las operaciones funcionando cuando se va la luz, que se nos va de cuando en cuando”, añadió.

A raíz de una manifestación convocada para las cinco de la tarde para que los ciudadanos depositen sus enseres dañados a raíz de los apagones, el gobernador sostuvo que lanzar escombros en la vía pública constituye delito.

“No es legal tú depositar desperdicios en una vía pública, así que se tomarán las medidas para que la vía se mantenga despejada y no se afecte el tránsito vehicular y peatonal en el área”, señaló.

“Yo respeto el derecho a la expresión, pero lo que sí le pido al pueblo que, de igual manera, respeten la ley y el orden. Que toda expresión debe hacerse conforme a la ley y el orden. Y de igual manera, que se respete a los funcionarios de la Policía, que lo que están velando es para que se cumpla con la ley y el orden”, finalizó.


Pilot on inaugural Nigeria to Barbados flight says it was ‘easy’ Loop Barbados

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Some 130 passengers from various countries in West Africa landed in Barbados on the first direct flight from Lagos, Nigeria, to Barbados on board Ethiopian Airlines this morning.

The flight was eight hours long with little turbulence.

Chatting with Loop on the tarmac in the shadow of the aircraft parked at Gate 10 at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), German-born captain Lars Mueller said that the direct flight was uneventful.

He said:

“It was straightforward, easy flight. The weather was nice. We had some clouds in the Atlantic but otherwise it was a smooth, uncomplicated flight.”

Asked if he thinks there should be a non-stop flight between the continent and Caribbean, he said that making that happen is out of his purview. But from the point of view of a pilot, it is feasible.

“That’s not up to me, it’s a matter of the two countries. I don’t know if there are enough people for a route for this…”

Speaking with his captain hat on, however, he asserted, “It’s no problem at all. It’s easy – the flight to come here, the airport, the facilities is perfect, the weather is always good. There is no problem at all.”

Noting the weather comment, Mueller revealed that this is not his first time touching down on Barbados soil though. But he was not at the helm, that time. He revealed, “I’ve been to Barbados 20 years ago for vacation and had a nice holiday here.”

And with those memories, plus today’s successful flight, he said that his boss would make the call on whether he will be repeating this trip in the future.

Ethiopian Airlines serves over 130 destinations around the globe. Mueller has been a pilot for more than 30 years.

The passengers who disembarked the flight around 10:40 am, today, August 31, 2022, are in Barbados for the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022 (ACTIF 2022) to be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) from September 1 to September 3, 2022. This inaugural forum is an initiative of the Government of Barbados and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). The comanagers of the Forum are Invest Barbados and Export Barbados. The direct flight was also made possible through the efforts of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI).