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Caribbean Immigrant Advocate Named Head Of NYC Mayor’s Office Of Nonprofit Services

News Americas, New York, NY, June 17, 2024: New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced the appointment of a Caribbean-born advocate, Johnny Celestin, as the executive director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Nonprofit Services. The appointment comes during National Caribbean American Heritage Month in the U.S.

Haitian American Johnny Celestin is now Executive Director Of the NYC Mayor’s Office Of Nonprofit Services

In his new role, the Haitian immigrant will lead efforts to engage and communicate with nonprofits, develop capacity-building programs to facilitate easier contracting with the city, and advance the recommendations of the Joint Task Force to Get Nonprofits Paid on Time.

“For nearly three decades, Johnny Celestin has led by example, advocating across multiple nonprofits to uplift those who need a helping hand, ensuring our social safety net catches New Yorkers most in need, and providing relief to those in his home country of Haiti,” said Mayor Adams. “In this new role, Johnny will use his expertise to help nonprofits continue to deliver compassion and care to New Yorkers across the five boroughs. Together, with government and nonprofits working together, we can work to build a better, stronger city.”

Celestin expressed his gratitude and commitment to the role, stating: “The nonprofit sector is critical for our city, providing essential services and enriching our communities. My experience fostering opportunity and advocating for equity at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses has prepared me for this exciting new challenge. Together, we can ensure the office fulfills its multifaceted mission head-on, including streamlining funding access for nonprofits, promoting equity, and maximizing community impact.”

Celestin brings nearly 30 years of leadership experience across various sectors, including his previous role at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises. He has also worked with organizations such as the Robin Hood Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Clinton Foundation. Celestin is currently a faculty member at the Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs. He was recently the executive director of the Future Leaders Foundation (FLF) and the Centre Haïtien du Leadership et de l’Excellence (CLE), a Haitian foundation focused on identifying, shaping, and connecting Haitian leaders to build a stronger and more equitable Haiti.

Before joining CLE, Celestin served as the deputy chief of staff for Haiti’s Minister of Planning, overseeing various special projects. He brings extensive leadership and international experience in administration, program management, change management, governance, leadership development, and community development. His diverse career includes roles at Accenture LLP, The Robin Hood Foundation, and The Clinton Foundation.

Celestin is also an entrepreneur, having founded several businesses and organizations, including The Black Pearl Café and 420Lenox LLC in Harlem, the Haiti Innovation Fund at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Center for Innovation and Management in Haiti, and Black Pearl Innovation S.A. in Haiti.

He holds a master’s degree in International Affairs from The New School University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Iona College. Celestin has also earned various certifications in Organizational Performance from Accenture, Leadership and Teamwork from MIT, New Communities Movement (Saemaul Undong) from Yeungnam University, and Community Development from Coady International Institute.

Celestin is a change maker, bridge builder, and engaged citizen passionate about social change and social justice. He serves on numerous boards, including CLE, SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods), and the advisory board for New School University’s Graduate Program of International Affairs (GPIA). He co-hosts Le Mo-Jo show, a weekly live show aiming to inform and engage the Haitian diaspora community.

Johnny Celestin is married to Leila and is the proud father of Jenna Emily.

Mayor Adams’ administration has made significant investments to support the city’s nonprofit sector, including a $741 million investment for human services workers employed by nonprofit organizations. The administration’s initiatives have unlocked over $6 billion for nonprofits and reformed discretionary contract processes to ensure timely payments.

With this appointment, Celestin is set to lead the Mayor’s Office of Nonprofit Services into a new era of collaboration and impact, supporting New York City’s nonprofits in their vital work for the community.

How The Caribbean Is Reviving Endangered Species

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 13, 2024: The Caribbean is home to many unique animals, from marine mammals to rare lizards. Just as many people head off to the Fisherman’s trail to see White Storks and dolphins, the Caribbeans see a lot of wildlife tourism too. 

Over the years, though, many species faced extinction due to threats like overfishing and pollution. But recent efforts show that the tide is turning and the work is helping these species recover.

Recent Success Stories

White Cay Rock Iguana

Thirty years ago, fewer than 150 White Cay rock iguanas lived on a small island in the Bahamas. Today, there are over 2,000. Conservationists achieved this by removing invasive species like ship rats and raccoons. These invasive animals threatened the iguanas by eating their eggs and young, and so today stand a better chance of survival.

Antiguan Racer Snake

The Antiguan racer snake was once the world’s rarest snake. In 1995, only 50 were left on one small island. Conservationists worked hard to protect these snakes and they ended up relocating them to predator-free islands, which increased numbers to over 1,000.

Sombrero Ground Lizard

The Sombrero ground lizard lives on Sombrero Island off the coast of Anguilla. Due to deforestation and hurricanes, their numbers dropped below 100. Conservationists removed invasive species from the island, which helped the lizard population more than triple since 2021. 

Cross-Border and Regional Efforts

Marine Reserves

New marine reserves have played a big role in protecting endangered species. A recent example is the Hermandad reserve in Ecuador. This reserve helps protect migratory species like sea turtles, whales and sharks from industrial fishing and even climate change. It forms part of the East Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, which stretches from Ecuador to Costa Rica, showing that international co-ordination has reaped rewards​​.

Caribbean Biological Corridor (CBC)

The CBC is a joint effort by Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It started in 2007 to protect over 200,000 square km of coastal ecosystems. These areas are key for migratory routes and the reproduction of species like whale sharks and sperm whales.

Comprehensive Management Strategies

Managing invasive species has played a major role in the strategy behind the conservation efforts. The lionfish invasion, for example, poses a threat to local marine life. Efforts to control their population are ongoing. Another issue is the spread of Sargassum, a type of seaweed. Countries are working together to share data and find ways to manage its impact on beaches and marine habitats​​.

Less than half of the countries in the region sufficiently measure how well these areas are managed. Improving this can help ensure that conservation efforts are effective. One step towards this has been the Visión Amazónica initiative in the Amazon, which aims to integrate protected areas across nine countries.

Community and Policy Engagement

Conservation efforts also support local economies. As mentioned, local communities benefit from tourism because it’s a big attraction. Of course, sustainable tourism is important, and this needs to operate on a local level too. Training programs help local people become involved in conservation, such as teaching law enforcement officers how to protect wildlife. 

So far, regional cooperation has been the key to successful conservation. The UN Biodiversity Conference aims to protect 30% of land and sea areas by 2030, but more localised collaboration and sharing of data has been the real turning point. 

The Caribbean is making significant strides in conservation. As the beach and sea remain a big tourist attraction, the importance of sustaining local wildlife has become a priority. By working together and implementing effective strategies, the region is helping each other to help endangered species recover.

US Official For Guyana

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 12, 2024: US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ambassador, Bonnie D. Jenkins, will travel to Guyana tomorrow.

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ambassador, Bonnie D. Jenkins,

Ambassador Jenkins will be in Guyana from June 13 – 14, 2024.While in Guyana, the Under Secretary will participate in bilateral meetings, meet with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and attend side events to underscore the U.S. commitment to arms control, nonproliferation, and international security.

Her visit comes just days after The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), slapped sanctions on three Guyanese, including a government official.

Ambassador Jenkins, PhD, has served as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security since July 22, 2021. As Under Secretary, she oversees three bureaus: the Arms Control, Deterrence and Stability Bureau; the International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau (ISN); and the Political-Military Affairs Bureau. In addition, as of May 2023, Secretary of State Antony Blinken named Under Secretary Jenkins as the senior official to lead the Department’s efforts on AUKUS implementation. She is the first African American to serve as an Under Secretary of State.

Jenkins previously served in the Obama Administration as Special Envoy and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the ISN bureau from July 2009 until January 2017. In that role, Ambassador Jenkins coordinated U.S. government efforts on threat reduction programs alongside international programs that prevent non-State actors with intent to do harm from acquiring chemical precursors, biological pathogens, nuclear material, and radiological sources to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). She was also the State Department’s lead for all four of the Nuclear Security Summits held from 2010 to 2016, as well as the U.S. Representative to the G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

US Slaps Sanctions On Three Guyanese, Including Government Official

News Americas, New York, NY, Tues. June 11, 2024: The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has slapped sanctions on three Guyanese, including a government official.

OFAC has imposed sanctions on Thomas Nazar Mohamed, his son, Azruddin Mohamed, and their company, along with designating two other entities, Hadi’s World and Team Mohamed’s Racing Team, which are owned or controlled by Mohamed’s Enterprise and Azruddin, respectively as well as on Mae Thomas, the Permanent Secretary of the Guyana Ministry of Labour.

The Guyana government announced on Tuesday that it has placed Thomas on immediate leave following her inclusion in a list of sanctioned individuals by OFAC.

According to OFAC, these sanctions fall under Executive Order 13818, which implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act targeting perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption worldwide.

“Today’s action underscores our commitment to holding accountable those who seek to exploit Guyana’s underdeveloped gold sector for personal gain,” stated Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. He added that the Treasury, in collaboration with U.S. law enforcement, will continue efforts to protect the U.S. financial system from corrupt actors.

The U.S. authorities highlighted that gold is one of Guyana’s main exports but described the industry as highly fragmented, with small-scale mining operations dominating gold production. These small businesses often have informal relationships with larger traders like Mohamed’s Enterprise, leading to international gold sales across markets in the U.S., Canada, UAE, and the EU.

Nazar Mohamed established Mohamed’s Enterprise in Guyana, later expanding to the U.S. and transitioning into gold trading, making it one of Guyana’s largest gold exporters. Azruddin Mohamed eventually took over the enterprise, which now also operates as “Confidential Cambio.”

From 2019 to 2023, Mohamed’s Enterprise allegedly underreported over 10,000 kilograms of gold in import and export declarations, avoiding more than US$50 million in duty taxes to the Guyanese government. OFAC stated that Thomas, as Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Home Affairs, misused her position to benefit Mohamed’s Enterprise and Azruddin in exchange for cash payments and high-value gifts, influencing contract bids and approval processes for weapons permits and passports.

The Guyana government acknowledged the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s information regarding the three Guyanese nationals. It stated that the Ministry of Finance and relevant statutory agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority, will request further details to support local law enforcement agencies.

“The Government of Guyana takes very seriously the claims contained in the press release and will continue to engage relevant United States entities on these matters. In the meantime, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Ms. Mae Thomas, has been sent on leave with immediate effect,” the statement read.

President Irfaan Ali’s administration emphasized its commitment to working with the U.S. government on mutual interests, including upholding the rule of law and order.

BioQuest Achieves Caribbean First with Grooved Brain Coral Genome Sequencing

News Americas, New York, NY, Fri. June 7, 2024: In celebration of World Oceans Day, BioQuest is proud to announce the completion of the draft reference genome of the Grooved Brain Coral. This milestone marks the first time whole genome sequencing of a coral reef has been accomplished in the Caribbean by Caribbean scientists. This groundbreaking work was conducted locally in Bermuda in collaboration with the Two Frontiers Project, ASU Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ Org.One.

The project began in July 2023, with the BioQuest team learning how to sample and extract DNA from the coral reef with training from the Two Frontiers Project. In Phase 1, the team progressed from sampling to coral microbiome analysis within 72 hours, with all work conducted by Bermudians in Bermuda.

Phase 2 saw BioQuest successfully sequence the whole genome of the coral for the first time during Roche Science Week at Bermuda College in February. The assembly of the draft reference genome was completed by Professor Miten Jain, Principal Investigator of the Genome Technology Laboratory at Northeastern University in Boston.

This technological feat leveraged the advanced capabilities of Seq2Know, the sole Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) certified sequencing laboratory in the LATAM & Caribbean region, run by CariGenetics.

The Grooved Brain Coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis), a large, reef-building coral found throughout the Caribbean Sea and its adjacent waters, is currently classified as critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List. BioQuest’s efforts are pivotal in the conservation of this species, creating a vital resource for future genetic work that will contribute to its preservation.

Jean-Pierre Rouja, Executive Director of BioQuest, remarked, “Completing the coral reference genome represents a monumental achievement in our efforts to conserve marine biodiversity. This project underscores our commitment to build local capacity and advance scientific research in the Caribbean.”

BioQuest is an innovative philanthropic NGO focused on biodiversity conservation using genomics, starting with the Caribbean’s signature species. It’s aim is to create local biodiversity genetic research capacity whilst preserving our unique environment for generations to come.

Biden Again Declares June 2024 National Caribbean American Heritage Month

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, New York, NY, May 31, 2024: US President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has again officially proclaimed June 2024 as National Caribbean American Heritage Month, celebrating the contributions and diverse cultures of Caribbean people in the US. In his proclamation, President Biden highlighted the unwavering commitment of Caribbean Americans to the nation’s core values of opportunity and freedom.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris enter for a campaign event at Girard College in Philadelphia, Pa on Wednesday May 29, 2024. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“Caribbean Americans are dreamers and doers, always finding ways to push our country forward,” President Biden stated, while recognizing the vital roles played by Caribbean Americans in various sectors, from healthcare and education to entrepreneurship and public service. For yet another year, he made special mention of the key figures in his administration with Caribbean heritage, including his Jamaican roots Vice President Kamala Harris, Cuban born Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and his Martinique-born, Haitian heritage, White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, who have all done very little to celebrate or focus on the region.

But the proclamation emphasized the Administration’s efforts to ensure equal opportunities for all, showcasing a historic economic recovery that has significantly benefited Black and Latino communities. Additionally, President Biden underscored the importance of partnerships with Caribbean nations, citing substantial investments in infrastructure and economic support for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He pointed to initiatives such as the Crime Gun Intelligence Unit and the deployment of the Kenyan-led Multinational Security Support mission in Haiti were highlighted. The Administration also supports the reauthorization of the HOPE/HELP trade preferences program to bolster Haiti’s economic growth.

President Biden, who is facing a tough re-election bid after alienating his core base of black, Caribbean and immigrant voters, also reiterated his commitment to fixing the immigration system to be more humane and orderly, particularly for those fleeing violence in the Caribbean. The Administration, he said, aims to expand lawful pathways to the U.S. and expedite asylum claims for those seeking protection even as it moves to close the borders.

As National Caribbean American Heritage Month begins, President Biden encouraged all Americans to celebrate the rich history, culture, and achievements of Caribbean Americans through appropriate ceremonies and activities.

Since 2006, every US President has declared June CAHM.

Read the full proclamation below.

The full proclamation follows:

“A Proclamation on National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, 2024

During National Caribbean American Heritage Month, we celebrate the contributions and the diverse cultures of the millions of people across our Nation with Caribbean heritage, who have never let us walk away from our Nation’s most sacred values of opportunity and freedom.

Caribbean Americans are dreamers and doers, always finding ways to push our country forward, reach new heights, and forge a more perfect Union. From the Caribbean Americans who helped build our country from the ground up to those who have only just arrived, they have all believed in the possibilities our country has to offer and strengthened the diverse fabric of our Nation. Above all, Caribbean Americans are leaders — they are our beloved doctors, nurses, teachers, athletes, artists, community organizers, entrepreneurs, and our service members and first responders, who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. I am especially proud of the Caribbean Americans serving across my Administration and working hard to sustain our democracy — including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

My Administration recognizes that, to keep the torch of liberty that has led generations of immigrants to America burning bright, we must keep ensuring that everyone has a fair shot and access to opportunity. And we are delivering. My Administration has powered a historic economic recovery that created 15 million jobs, achieved the fastest creation rate of Black-owned businesses in more than 30 years, and broke records as Latino entrepreneurs have started new businesses at the fastest rate in over 10 years.

Caribbean Americans also form the foundation of our country’s partnerships with nations across the Caribbean as we work to advance opportunity and security across the region. My Administration announced over $275 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands that will deliver clean and safe water, access to high-speed internet, public transit, and modern roads and bridges. We launched the Puerto Rico Economic Dialogue and made more than $140 billion in Federal obligations, which have driven the island’s economic turnaround. Since I came into office, Puerto Rico has added more than 100,000 new jobs and unemployment reached a historic low of under six percent. We are continuing to work with Caribbean countries to tackle climate change and support clean energy development. In partnership with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), we launched the Crime Gun Intelligence Unit to combat firearms trafficking. Last summer, my Administration appointed a Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions to lead our efforts to stem firearms trafficking in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, we have been working with CARICOM to restore stability and security in Haiti by facilitating meaningful and inclusive political dialogue and supporting the deployment of the Kenyan-led Multinational Security Support mission. We must complement our security investments with economic support. This is why my Administration supports the reauthorization of the HOPE/HELP trade preferences program in order to spur greater economic prosperity in Haiti.

At the same time, we have been working since day one of my Administration to fix the broken immigration system so that it is safe, orderly, and humane — especially for those in the Caribbean community who are fleeing oppressive rule and trying to escape gang violence to ensure a better life for them and their families. We are working to expand lawful pathways to the United States for Caribbean individuals and establish a faster process for deciding claims of asylum for people who are credibly seeking protection from persecution. My Administration will continue to do everything we can, including calling on the Congress to finally act and pass critical resources and reforms.

America was founded on the idea that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives. That promise beats in the hearts of all Caribbean Americans, who have added new meaning to our Nation’s founding values. That idea is what connects us to all the Caribbean nations and territories working toward a future rooted in freedom and democracy. This month, may we celebrate all that Caribbean heritage, history, and contributions have meant to our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2024 as National Caribbean American Heritage Month. I encourage all Americans to join in celebrating the history, culture, and achievements of Caribbean Americans with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-eighth.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.”

These Are The Caribbean Nations Now Recognizing Palestine As A State

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. May 29, 2024: As the death toll in Gaza continues to rise from Israel’s continued war on the strip, support globally continues to grow for a Palestinian state. Fourteen Caribbean nations now officially recognize the State of Palestine.

An activist carries a fake baby rapped in white cloth with blood and a placards supporting Palestine during the demonstration. The “Comida no Bombas” collective protested peacefully by giving away water and food outside one of the branches of the “Burger King” chain. The action corresponds to a global call to boycott companies that have directly or indirectly supported Israel’s war conflict towards Palestine. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

They are:

Jamaica

Barbados

Guyana

Haiti

Suriname

Cuba

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Belize

Dominica

Grenada

Saint Lucia

Saint Kitts & Nevis.

The Dominican Republic

And Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago became the latest country in May to announce its decision to formally recognize the State of Palestine which it said will assist in the achievement of a lasting peace by strengthening the growing international consensus on the issue of Palestinian statehood. They followed Barbados and Jamaica which announced their support weeks earlier.

“Recognition of Palestine is moral and just and demonstrates Trinidad and Tobago’s acknowledgment of and support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian People,” the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago said in a statement.

Palestinian women mourn relatives killed in Israeli bombardment as they sit by their displacement tent in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 29, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. Street fighting and Israeli bombardment rocked Gaza’s far-southern Rafah on May 29, Palestinian residents and officials said, a day after Israeli tanks rolled into the centre of the city near the Egyptian border. (Photo by BASHAR TALEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Currently, 146 out of 193 UN members recognize Palestine as a state. Slovenia is expected to recognize Palestine by June 13th. Given Ireland’s and Spain’s European Union memberships, it is also hoped the move will put the status of Palestine firmly on the agenda during the June 6-9th EU elections.

In practical terms currently it does not make a big deal of difference for Palestine. However, any move from the international community towards giving Palestine greater recognition gives its diplomats extra sway in any negotiation or summit.

It also allows Palestine to enter into bilateral agreements as an independent state.

Caribbean Heritage, British Artist Presented with Damehood at Windsor Castle

News Americas, LONDON, England, Weds., May 22, 2024: Black Caribbean heritage artist Sonia Boyce has been presented with her damehood at Windsor Castle by the Prince of Wales.

British-Caribbean artist Sonia Boyce poses with her medal after being appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) following an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, southern England, on May 22, 2024. (Photo by ANDREW MATTHEWS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the investiture ceremony, Dame Sonia spoke to the PA news agency, expressing her desire to use her elevated profile to continue advocating for the arts. Born in Islington, north London, in 1962, to a Guyanese father and a Barbadian mother who met and married shortly after arriving in the city, Dame Sonia was honored for her services to the arts in the King’s New Year Honours list in 2024.

Reflecting on the moment she received the news of her damehood, she said, “It was very hard for me to reconcile when I got the letter saying, ‘We’d like to offer you the damehood’. I was like, really? Trying to put myself in what I imagine a dame to be. It took a while for me to reconcile that yes, I could take that on somehow.”

Dame Sonia made history in 2016 as the first black woman elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and is a professor of black art and design at the University of the Arts London. She commented on her damehood, saying, “It’s a recognition of work that not only I have done but has been done over the decades to acknowledge and, I suppose, reward the contributions that many have made. So I feel very privileged – slightly shocked still – to be in this position and also to be an advocate for the arts. We so need that at the moment – the arts are just incredible, they’re not an add-on, they’re integral to everyday life.”

Dame Sonia emphasized the importance of the arts, stating, “The arts are really about if you’ve got something to say, or you’re envisaging something, you’re in a dialogue with everybody about it. So it really is about ‘Come and take part, come and add to the conversation, come and dream your dreams’.” She also noted the evolving inclusivity of the Royal Academy of Arts, saying, “The Royal Academy of Arts is becoming much more inclusive, and people have fought very hard to make that possible. Of course, it needs to open the doors to a really diverse group of artists who are in a renaissance at the moment. There is so much creativity going on.”

Discussing the broader cultural landscape, she added, “In the UK, we’ve still got a long way to go, but in the same way that British culture is always slightly quirky and often ahead of the curve, the creative industries are punching above their weight.”

Dominican Republic President Secures Second Term

News Americas, New York, NY, Mon. May 19, 2024: Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader has secured a second term in office, winning decisively in the first round of elections, according to preliminary results. The president’s victory reflects strong public approval of his economic management and stringent policies on migration from neighboring Haiti.

Dominican Republic’s President and presidential candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), Luis Abinader, gestures during a message to supporters after the first results of the general elections in Santo Domingo on May 19, 2024. Luis Abinader declared his re-election for a second four-year term, shortly after receiving the concession from his two main rivals with just over 20% of the votes counted. (Photo by FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)

With just over half of the votes counted, Abinader held a commanding lead with 58.85 percent of the vote. His closest competitor, former three-time President Leonel Fernandez, garnered 27.29 percent, as reported by electoral authorities. The substantial margin prompted Fernandez and another contender, Abel Martinez, to concede on Sunday night.

“Today our country shines with its own light,” Abinader declared to his supporters at the headquarters of his Modern Revolutionary Party. He pledged to lead with unity and impartiality, calling for a nation “without distinction, without sectarianism, and without party colors.”

A member of the Military Electoral Police frisks a man before he entered a polling station to vote during the general elections in Santo Domingo on May 19, 2024. (Photo by FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)

Abinader also committed to constitutional reforms to ensure the continuity of power would not be subject to the “personal whim” of the sitting president, reaffirming that he would not seek a third term.

Despite reports of minor irregularities from opposition parties, the election process was largely smooth. The 2024 elections saw high voter turnout, likely influenced by lingering dissatisfaction from the 2020 municipal elections, which were suspended due to a technical glitch.

Luis Fortuno, an international observer and former governor of Puerto Rico, remarked, “In general, the electoral process was carried out correctly, openly, and democratically.”

Abinader’s victory signals strong support for his administration’s policies, particularly his tough stance on migration from Haiti. During his first term, Abinader initiated the construction of a 164km (102-mile) concrete wall along the Haitian border and deported over 250,000 undocumented migrants in 2023. These actions, while criticized internationally, have been popular domestically.

Voter Willy Soto, 21, expressed approval for Abinader’s migration policies, stating, “The policies he’s implemented, how he’s cracked down, closed the border and built a wall, I feel like it’s a good initiative to control the problem of Haitian migration.”

Javier Taveras, 38, shared a nuanced view, supporting the preservation of national sovereignty while opposing abuse against Haitians. He voiced uncertainty about the wall’s effectiveness but affirmed his support for maintaining stringent border controls.

Human rights groups have criticized Abinader’s migration policies as racist and in violation of international law. However, the president’s focus on national security and anti-corruption measures has resonated with many voters.

Abinader, a U.S.-trained economist of Lebanese descent, was first elected in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His administration has worked to restore public trust following several corruption scandals involving high-profile officials.

As he prepares for his second term, Abinader faces the challenge of balancing national security concerns with international human rights standards, while continuing to address the economic and social issues facing the Dominican Republic.

ARCHIPELAGO INTERNATIONAL CONTINUES EXPANSION IN THE CARIBBEAN AND LATIN AMERICA

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic, May 17, 2024 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Today, at an official launch event in Punta Cana, attended by the Vice Minister for Tourism and the Indonesian Ambassador, Archipelago International opened its first corporate office in the Dominican Republic and announced the signing of multiple management agreements in the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Indonesian headquartered Archipelago International, the largest privately owned hotel management group in Southeast Asia, today announced details of its expansion in the region and the roll out of its brands, management services and hospitality technology development company, Sentinel Tech, at the opening of its new corporate office in the Dominican Republic. In addition to senior representatives of the Indonesian and Dominican Republic governments, the opening ceremony was attended by leading investors and developers from the travel and tourism sector.

Speaking on behalf of the Board of Archipelago International, Mr. Gerard Byrne, Managing Director, outlined the 27- year history of the company, from humble beginnings in Jakarta, Indonesia to a current position of managing over 270 operating hotels (45,000 rooms) and a pipeline of over 80 hotels (16,000 rooms) across 15 countries and 5 continents. He explained how a strong group wide ethos of ensuring a seamless customer experience from booking to review, high-level Asian service standards, Kaizen philosophy (continuous improvement) and long-term investment in technology solutions are major reasons for both its domestic success and international growth. In explaining the success story of Archipelago’s international expansion strategy, he said “We are providing owners, developers and investors with proven alternative branding and operational solutions for their hospitality assets at a price point that is well below other global brands. We have developed technology solutions which are made by hoteliers for hoteliers. Our renowned Asian service standards, leading technology solutions and flexibility as an independent company is setting us apart from the competition. In addition, we have changed the paradigm when it comes to the owner and operator relationship, by constructing new partnership operating models that reward the owner in a more equitable way than the traditional double digit fee structures of the past“.

Speaking after Mr. Byrne, Jose Luis Leonardo, Vice President – The Americas, outlined details of their existing operations in the Americas. “Since opening our first resort in the region in 2019, Grand Aston Cayo Las Brujas Beach Resort & Spa, Cuba, we have grown to having five hotels (3,242 rooms) in operation today, all of them achieving No.1 positioning in their respective destinations. In the next twelve months, we will open one hotel in Cuba, four hotels and condotels in the Dominican Republic and two in Mexico. These are Aston Panorama Hotel, Havana (320 rooms), Reserva Real by Harper, Punta Cana (187 rooms), Aston Rubí City Suites, Santo Domingo (179 rooms), Grand Aston Punta Cana Beach Resort & Spa (170 rooms), Aston Bocettos City Suites, Santo Domingo (126 rooms), Aston Puebla Hotel, Puebla (105 rooms) and IIk Tulum by Aston Tulum (104 rooms)“.

In terms of major new signings for the Dominican Republic Mr. Leonardo announced, Grand Aston Larimar City Golf Hotel & Residences, Punta Cana (228 rooms), Grand Aston Cáicu Coral Golf Hotel & Residences, Punta Cana (669 rooms), Riviera Bay by Aston, Cana Bay (110 rooms), Harbor Bay by Aston, Cap Cana (186 rooms), Juanillo Hills by Aston, Cap Cana (60 rooms), Aston Piantini Boutique Hotel, Santo Domingo (144 rooms), Aston Towers Larimar City, Punta Cana (432 rooms), Paradise Tower by Harper, Punta Cana (144 rooms), Harper Paradise Punta Cana (135 rooms), Aston Arts Hotel & Residences, Punta Cana (368 rooms) and The Alana Experience Punta Cana (530 rooms).

New signings in Mexico include Grand Aston Tulum (153 rooms), Aston Naomi Boutique Hotel & Residences, Playa Del Carmen (246 rooms), Zonna Beach Resort & Residences, Playa Del Carmen (257 rooms) and The Alana Hotel & Residences, Playa Del Carmen (376 rooms). He further commented “Aston hotels have long been referred to as ‘trusted’ hotels by our customers in Southeast Asia and we are delighted that owners, investors and developers in Latin America are not only excited about Aston coming to the Dominican Republic and Mexico but also that we are introducing new brands, technology and business model solutions for their hotels, resorts, condotels and branded residences in all segments. The government of the Dominican Republic has demonstrated commendable dedication to fostering a favorable business and economic climate that encourages growth in the travel and tourism sector. This commitment greatly influenced our decision to establish our second regional corporate office in Punta Cana. Furthermore, to enhance our operational capabilities, we are planning new corporate offices in Santo Domingo and Playa Del Carmen“.

About Archipelago International

Archipelago International is Southeast Asia’s largest privately owned hotel management group, with over 45,000 rooms in 200+ locations across Southeast Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. It has a rapidly expanding portfolio in the Americas region with 5 operating hotels and resorts (3,242 rooms) and a development pipeline of 9,500+ rooms across 30+ upcoming projects. The company provides hospitality and advanced technology solutions for hotels, resorts and branded residences through its 12 award winning brands, Aston, Aston Collection, Huxley, Alana, Avanika, favehotel, Harper, Quest, Hotel Neo, Kamuela, Nordic and Powered by Archipelago. These brands are positioned in different market segments, from budget to luxury hotels, resorts and branded residences.

Its consistent technology and systems focus, flexibility and agility as an independent company and variety of hotel brands have been key factors in its success and expansion in the hotel industry.