Kidnapped Nuns Released In Haiti

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 26, 2024: The Archbishop of Haiti, Max Leroy Mésidor, has announced the release of the nuns who were kidnapped last week, along with two others. The revelation came late Wednesday in a statement from the archbishop.

A man armed with a machete runs in a street of Solino, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 18, 2024. (Photo by RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Last Friday, Jan. 19th, armed gunmen hijacked a bus in Port-au-Prince, taking all of the passengers hostage, including six nuns from the order of the Sisters of Saint Anne.

“The archdiocese of Port-au-Prince thanks the Lord for the liberation of the six religious sisters and the others who were kidnapped on Jan. 19,” said Mesidor. “This traumatising event has, once more, tested our faith, but it remains unbreakable.”

This latest high-profile kidnapping prompted religious leaders to issue a scathing letter criticizing the government for its inaction in addressing Haiti’s surge in gang-related violence.

The statement did not disclose whether a ransom had been paid or provide details about those responsible.

Meanwhile, the Vatican’s official news outlet welcomed the announcement on Thursday, stating, “This marks a sigh of relief for the Haitian church.”

On Sunday, Pope Francis called for the release of hostages and expressed his prayers for an end to the violence in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state. The United Nations estimates that over 4,700 people have been killed in Haiti in the past year due to the ongoing violence.

Will Bob Marley’s Biopic Ignite The Box Office?

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 26, 2024: Paramount’s upcoming musical biopic, “Bob Marley: One Love,” is poised to inject life into the somewhat lackluster 2024 box office, which is currently trailing last year’s numbers by 9%.

(L-R) Brian Robbins, James Norton, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Mike Ireland, Robert Teitel, Reinaldo Marcus Green and Jeremy Kleiner attend the Premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Carib 5 Theatre on January 23, 2024 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

Starring Trinidadian roots and British-born actor Kingsley Ben-Adir, the film is expected to dominate the six-day holiday frame from February 14th to 19th, encompassing Valentine’s Day through President’s Day, with an anticipated box office haul ranging from $27 million to $33 million. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the movie portrays the life of the iconic reggae musician, Bob Marley, who passed away at the age of 36 due to cancer. Actress Lashana Lynch takes on the role of Marley’s wife, Rita, in the film.

(L-R) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Andrew Holness, Juliet Holness and Olivia Grange attend the Premiere of “Bob Marley: One Love” at the Carib 5 Theatre on January 23, 2024 in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

Paramount recently held the first global screening of “Bob Marley: One Love,” in Kingston, Jamaica, the hometown of the legendary musician. The event was celebrated with the Marley family, the film’s stars, and local fans. Rita Marley received a standing ovation at the Carib 5 Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 23rd.

In a surprising turn of events, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made an unexpected appearance at the premiere held at the Carib Theatre in Kingston. During the event, Meghan and Harry engaged in conversations with fellow attendees on the red carpet, including Ziggy Marley, son of Bob Marley. The couple also took photos with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Brian Robbins, the president and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon, along with his wife Tracy James.

Sygnus Credit Investments Marks First Listing of 2024 On Jamaica Stock Exchange

News Americas, KINGSTON, Jamaica, Fri. Jan. 26, 2024: Jamaican company, Sygnus Credit Investments, (SCI), has made a significant move by listing its preference share offer on the main market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, (JSE). This listing, which occurred on January 19th, marks the first of the year and is part of a larger strategic move by the company.

The preference share offer comprised three tranches and garnered considerable attention from investors. In fact, it was oversubscribed by an impressive 102% following a successful closing in December. This achievement highlights the strong demand for SCI’s offerings in the market.

Jason Morris, Chief Investment Officer and Executive Vice President, Sygnus, inserts strip as members of the Sygnus, JMMB and Jamaica Stock Exchange teams look on. (Front L to R) Dr Marlene Street Forrest, Managing Director, JSE Group, Karl Townsend, Chief Country Officer (Jamaica), Capital Markets Unit, JMMB, Linval Freeman, Chairman, Sygnus Credit Investments. (Back L to R) Berisford Grey, CEO and President, Sygnus, Alana Lawrence, Manager Capital Markets Unit, JMMB, and Gregory Samuels, Lead Arranger, Head of Investment Banking and Senior Vice President, Sygnus Capital.

This transaction is noteworthy not only for SCI but also for the JSE. It represents the largest capital raise in SCI’s history and stands as the largest capital raise on the JSE in over a year. Additionally, in terms of USD capital raise, it is the most significant transaction on the JSE since SCI’s initial public offering.

Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, Managing Director of the JSE Group, commended SCI for effectively utilizing the stock market to further its strategic plans. She noted that this listing represents a remarkable start to the year, surpassing the total capital raised in the main, junior, and US-denominated markets for 2023.

All three classes of SCI’s preference shares saw overwhelming interest from investors. The company successfully raised a total of J$8.0 billion equivalent. This substantial capital infusion reflects investor confidence in SCI’s growth prospects and its ability to deliver value.

Berisford Grey, CEO and President of Sygnus, expressed his gratitude to subscribers and emphasized the company’s pioneering role in the alternative investment space. He highlighted SCI’s commitment to driving economic growth across the region and creating wealth for investors.

SCI’s diverse investment approach encompasses various industries, including manufacturing, distribution, financial services, energy, and more. The company remains focused on expanding its private credit portfolio and participating in private credit transactions across the Caribbean, with a target of at least US$1 billion over the next three years.

Karl Townsend, JMMB’s Chief Country Officer (Jamaica), Capital Markets Unit, praised the overwhelming response to the offering. JMMB played a significant role in the success of the preference share offer, raising J$1.6 billion and US$40 million through JMMB Moneyline and its newly launched JMMB Moneyline IPO.

The successful listing of SCI’s preference shares underscores the company’s growth trajectory and the strong partnership between SCI and JMMB. It also highlights the growing investor interest in this asset class and the confidence in SCI’s strategic direction.

SCI’s listing on the JSE represents a significant milestone for the company and the exchange. It reflects SCI’s commitment to growth, innovation, and delivering value to its investors. The capital raised will enable SCI to pursue its ambitious growth initiatives in the Caribbean region.

Jamaica To Lead Group E In 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 26, 2024: In a highly anticipated draw held at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Concacaf has unveiled the groups for the second round of qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Jamaica, currently ranked as the number one team in the Caribbean Football Union, will take center stage in Group E.

FLASHBACK: Damion Lowe (L) and Dexter Lembikisa (C) of Jamaica fight for the ball with Orbelin Pineda (R) of Mexico during the match between Mexico and Jamaica as part of the CONCACAF Nations League at Azteca on March 26, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Jamaica will face formidable opponents in Group E, including Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Dominica, and the winner of the first-round clash between the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, set to unfold in March 2024.

The Reggae Boyz, under the guidance of Brazilian coach René Simões, have set their sights on a return to the World Cup stage. Their last appearance was in 1998 when they achieved a commendable third-place finish in the first-round group, competing against the likes of Argentina and Croatia.

With a talent pool that includes players from the English Premier League, Major League Soccer, and the United Soccer League in the United States, the Jamaican team aims to end their World Cup qualification drought.

In other groupings, Trinidad & Tobago, the only other English-speaking CFU team to have participated in the World Cup, will feature in Group B alongside Costa Rica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, and the Bahamas.

The qualification journey continues for teams in Group A, featuring Honduras, Antigua & Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, and Cuba. Meanwhile, Group C will showcase CFU No. 2 Haiti, Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, and St Lucia.

Guyana, which recently secured promotion to the top tier of the Concacaf Nations League, joins Group D, where they will compete against Panama, Belize, Montserrat, and Nicaragua. Group F brings together El Salvador, Puerto Rico, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and the victor of the first-round match-up between Turks & Caicos Islands and Anguilla.

It’s important to note that Canada, Mexico, and the United States, as joint hosts of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, have automatic qualification, exempting them from the Concacaf qualifiers. The remaining 30 teams within the confederation will fiercely contend in the second round of qualifiers.

The initial round of World Cup qualification for Concacaf teams is scheduled for March of this year, involving the four lowest-ranked teams: BVI, USVI, TCI, and Anguilla. In the second round, teams will engage in single round-robin matches, with six group winners and six group runners-up advancing to the 12-team third round of qualification.

The second round of qualifiers will take place over two match days in June of this year, followed by another two match days in June of the subsequent year, setting the stage for an intense battle for World Cup qualification in the region.

Caribbean Travel News And Deals This Week

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 26, 2024: Here are the top Caribbean travel news and deals this week in 60 seconds.

The United States is urging nationals to re-consider travel to Jamaica due to crime and medical services. The State Department is strongly encouraging US nationals to obtain traveler’s insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, before traveling to Jamaica. Additionally, they warn of travel to several areas of Jamaica due to crime there.

Canadian authorities are also warning nationals to exercise a high degree of caution of travelling to or in Jamaica or the Bahamas due to high rates of crime rates in both countries.

Frontier Airlines will add six new nonstop routes from the mainland United States to Puerto Rico this June. The new routes include new nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Boston, Norfolk, Palm Beach and Fort Myers.

One of the hottest deals this week is for an all-inclusive trip from JFK to Sunscape Puerto Plata Dominican Republic for just USD557 per person from Feb. 11-14th. Check out the deal on Apple Vacations now.

Or if Curacao is more on your bucket list, check out the All inclusive deal at Dreams Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino. Fly from JFK between March 18-21 for USD 1,074 per person. Book on Apple Vacations.

And JetBlue Vacations is offering an all-inclusive stay from May 6-10th at the St. James’s Club Resort & Villa in Antigua, for fliers from JFK. Check out JetBlue vacations to book now for USD 1,214 per person.