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Religious keep momentum of Amazon synod alive in wider Latin American, Caribbean region – Global Sisters Report

Posted: January 20, 2020 at 5:47 am

The Seminar on Integral Ecological Conversion, held Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2019, in San Jos, Costa Rica, focused on the challenges and roles of religious life with the conclusion of the Amazon synod. (GSR photo/Soli Salgado)

San Jose, Costa Rica As one of just 10 women who participated in the Amazon synod, Sr. Daniela Cannavina returned to Latin America eager to impart the wisdom from her experience at the Vatican to fellow religious, with anecdotes and summaries of the lively discussions from inside the hall.

But mainly, Cannavina returned eager to keep the momentum of the synod alive.

"We didn't want to waste time," she said, adding that to wait for the pope to publish his final document on the synod, which has not yet been released, risked spoiling the "nutrients" within the working drafts. (A Capuchin Sister of Mother Rubatto, Cannavina attended as a representative of the International Union of Superiors General.)

At the synod, which explored the Amazon's pastoral and environmental concerns Oct. 6-27, 2019, every participant was granted four minutes to speak. Cannavina chose to spend her brief time advocating for women deacons and for the region's ministries to have a more elevated, "feminine, Amazonian profile," she said.

She told Global Sisters Report that the many committees and seminars of the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (CLAR), of which she is general secretary, are almost entirely made up of women, so "it is up to us to create our own visibility, to continue that formation and build a synodal church."

She took this message and all her reflections from the synod back to Latin America, where, not even two months later, her representative role was flipped: Cannavina, an Argentine, was now tasked with communicating her experience to a small room full of Latin American religious, all of whom gathered in San Jos, Costa Rica, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, ready to localize the synod.

Sr. Daniela Cannavina, a Capuchin Sister of Mother Rubatto, is CLAR's general secretary and participated in the Amazon synod as a delegate for the International Union of Superiors General. (GSR photo/Soli Salgado)

Amazon region's challenges apply to all

The group of roughly 40 women and men religious, priests, deacons and lay theologians came from all over Latin America for the CLAR gathering. But most of their respective countries are geographically untouched by the Amazon.

Alirio Cceres Aguirre, a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Bogot, Colombia, who spent 15 days at the synod, said one of the triumphs of the synod was the understanding that the Amazon is a "laboratory," meaning all the challenges and issues discussed with respect to that specific region "still apply to other 'little Amazons,' the planet as a common home that contains pluralities, different cultures fundamentally linked by ecology," he said.

A chemical engineer and theologian, Cceres attended the CLAR gathering in Costa Rica on behalf of the Episcopal Conference of Latin America and Caritas' integral ecology program.

He described the synod as a "confluence between an ancestral, indigenous, Latin American worldview and the European structures of Catholic thought."

"The fact that the synod happened is, in and of itself, a success," he said. That many Catholics on the outside, including his own friends and family, saw the synod as controversial accusations of pagan practices and fear for the church's future, he said, contrasted the beauty and fraternity experienced within the synod serves as "a kind of diagnosis on where we are as a church."

"It's an invitation to think: How is it that we are going to achieve communion?" he said, adding that those meeting in Costa Rica were privileged to live out the lessons imparted by the Amazonian people: Words must become actions; beware of letting good intentions stay trapped in discussion.

The three-day CLAR summit included presentations from religious and laypeople on various environmental challenges they face in their regions and how they've worked to address them, which was a source of inspiration for those gathered.

Ariana Daz Acua is a 33-year-old lay theologian and the deputy director of the Laudato Si' Observatory, which the Catholic University of Costa Rica launched in 2017 to influence environmental public policy in developing countries in the spirit of the encyclical.

While education is a key focus of the observatory, promoting workshops and projects throughout Latin America, Daz said she and her colleagues also educated local bishops several months ahead of the synod who knew only rough details about the pastoral and ecological challenges in the Amazon.

At the CLAR gathering, she presented scientific information from the observatory's Environmental Development Index, which measures environmental impacts of countries all over the globe.

"We already have a lot of theological depth on this topic, but sometimes, we don't know the science as well," Daz said.

But being among men and women religious who see the negative effects of climate change firsthand, she said, was a powerful reminder of the greater purpose of her academic work.

"I could feel the pain of the people who suffer from drought, who are up against mining, whose homes are destroyed," Daz said. "The work I do in the observatory, the synod, this seminar, it leaves me restless and makes me think, on a personal level, about what decisions I can make in 2020 to help the disadvantaged in my community."

But while smaller day-to-day deeds at the individual level are necessary, Cceres emphasized that "it is at the institutional, community level where meaningful change happens."

"Our response should not be through a rigid, business-like structure, but rather, through networks, alliances and coalitions that create concrete action," he said, adding that they ought to replicate the synodal process in its inclusivity and open dialogue.

"This is how the global Catholic movement can offer guidance and inspiration to all of humanity."

The Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2019, CLAR gathering was an opportunity for religious involved in ecology in their respective Latin American countries to network and share experiences. (GSR photo/Soli Salgado)

Religious must be involved

Sr. Marleen Renders, a Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Belgium, has been ministering in Guatemala since 1986. She's spent much of the last decade accompanying Guatemalans who have been resisting a mining operation on their land outside Guatemala City.

"It hurt this community that the church wasn't present on this issue," she said, noting that parish priests hesitated to get involved because some in the community were in favor of the mine. In 2012, locals then turned to Guatemala's conference of religious, CONFREGUA, for which Renders was then the secretary.

A few times a week, Renders joins the protests that take the form of overnight campgrounds in the middle of the street to prevent the mining trucks from reaching the pueblos.

"Those fights are never just about the people today, but about future generations, the animals dying in exchange for gold extraction," she said. The more time she spent with them, Renders added, the more she understood the overlap between the Earth and their spirituality.

"I've been a part of so many experiences like these, where you see people who are willing to put their lives on the line for their environment, for their community," she said. "As religious, we can't be on the outside looking in."

Participants discuss their countries' issues at the Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2019, CLAR gathering. (GSR photo/Soli Salgado)

Even though the focus of the synod was the Amazon, Renders said, "you still feel Guatemala's indigenous in all of this, the people who live in the ravines.

"You can't look at the Amazon like one specific place in the world. The conversation is bigger than that. We're talking about all the territories who share those problems and concerns," she said. "And I have a lot of hope."

Moving forward, CLAR's role in supporting the religious in the Amazon, Cannavina said, will be through strengthening the Panamanian ecclesial network, REPAM, ensuring that "the process that was lived in the synod does not fall through the cracks, but that it continues to mobilize us." She added that CLAR will also reflect on and revisit its structures, such as how they can expand their presence in the regions where it's needed.

At the synod, Pope Francis encouraged creativity and novelty in addressing the challenges before the church, which Cannavina emphasized as a key takeaway but, ultimately, an ongoing process.

"Creativity isn't just born in a few days of meeting; it's all the possibilities that come from the reception of the synod," she said. (The CLAR gathering concluded with a final document summarizing the group's reflections and calls to action, available here in Spanish.)

"We as a church have to be allies with the people who are most exploited, who are most in need of a presence to walk beside them," she said. "With that alone, we have a lot on our plate."

The synod more than anything demonstrated "emerging points," Cannavina said, such as developing formation houses inspired by Amazonian cultures, an observatory for Latin American research, and for religious life to see themselves as pilgrims in a process that is at once intercultural, intercongregational and itinerant.

"I'll never forget at the synod when the pope was told he is not alone in this, that there were many of us accompanying and supporting him," Cannavina said. "It was like an invitation for the pope to keep paddling, to keep sailing inland because we'll go with him a church in communion. We're all in this process of looking for a new way of being a church."

Like after all CLAR gatherings, the group wrapped up the three days in San Jos, Costa Rica, with a cultural party, this time with a local Costa Rican dance troupe kicking off an evening of music and dance. (GSR photo/Soli Salgado)

[Soli Salgado is a staff writer for Global Sisters Report. Her email address is Follow her on Twitter: @soli_salgado.]

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Royal Caribbean: Grandfather ‘reckless’ in toddler death: report – Fox Business

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CEO Richard Fain says his company is deviating ships to bring hot meals to the people of the Bahamas.

The grandfather of a toddler who fell to her death from a cruise ship window was "reckless and irresponsible," the cruise line said as it asked a federal court to dismiss a civil lawsuit.

Royal Caribbean blamed the grandfather, Salvatore Anello, for the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand last summer, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Photo of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand in the Freedom of the Seas' H2O Zone. (Photo provided in lawsuit)


The cruise line made the accusation in court records filed in response to a lawsuit from the Indiana family. The family's lawsuit alleged the cruise line neglected to warn passengers that windows in the play area where Chloe fell could open.

The cruise line, however, said that surveillance video showed Anello leaning out the window for several seconds before picking up Chloe and holding her out the window, according to the report.


Photograph showing distance between the wooden railing and the window, which was open at the time of Chloe Wiegand's death (lawsuit)


Anello "held her by and out of the open window for thirty-four seconds before he lost his grip and dropped Chloe out of the window,"the court documents state.

An attorney for the family told the Star that the cruise line "did not implement industry standards for toddler safety aboard its ships."

In a statement to FOX Business, Royal Caribbean said, The death of Chloe Wieband is undeniably a heartbreaking tragedy that has prompted a criminal prosecution of Chloes step-grandfather and a civil lawsuit brought by the Wiegand family attorneys. Our position in the matter is outlined in our Motion to Dismiss, which we were legally mandated to do in response to the civil complaint.

In a separate criminal case, Anello is facing a charge of negligent homicide in Chloe's death.

The family was aboard the Freedom of the Seas, which was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when Chloe fell 150 feet from the ship to the pier.


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Mottley warns of attempts to divide the Caribbean – Jamaica Gleaner

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has warned of the attempt to divide the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping as some regional leaders get ready to meet with United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Tuesday.

Addressing a gala to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late Barbados prime minister and regional integrationist Errol W. Barrow on Saturday night, Mottley said that she is conscious that in the next week questions will be asked as to whether the Barbados foreign minister happened to be missing in a meeting in Kingston in Jamaica that will take place on Tuesday.

We dont look to pick fights. I dont look to pick fights, but I am conscious that if this country does not stand for something, then it will fall for anything. As chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my foreign minister should attend a meeting with anyone to which members of CARICOM are not invited. If some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide this region, Mottley said.

Earlier this week, Jamaicas Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith said Pompeos two-day working visit, which begins on January 21, is a commitment to strengthen relations with the Caribbean.

We welcome the visit of Secretary Pompeo as a demonstration of the commitment of the United States of America to once more strengthen its engagement with Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. We truly look forward to this opportunity to engage and reinforce our longstanding ties, she added.

Pompeo will hold talks with Jamaicas Prime Minister Andrew Holness and senior members of his cabinet on the second day of the visit and is expected to give a policy speech on the Caribbean regions critical importance to the United States, and the countrys renewed commitment to closer ties, based on shared values, interests and economic prosperity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said.

Both the Jamaica Gleaner and the Observer newspaper, quoting sources, said that Pompeo is also due to meet with several Caribbean leaders.

But a CARICOM source told the Caribbean Media Corporation that the regional grouping had not been formally invited to participate in the discussions during Pompeos visit.

Last year, Holness was among four Caribbean leaders St. Lucia, the Bahamas and Haiti who flew to Miami to meet with US President Donald Trump where they discussed the ongoing political situation in Venezuela where Washington is seeking to remove President Nicolas Maduro in favour of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

CARICOM leaders at their last summit in St Lucia last July reiterated their position of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

Mottley told the gala that she was conscious that when Errol Barrow stood and remarked that we shall be friends of all and satellites of none, little did he know that that statement would be embraced by every single prime minister of Barbados that succeeded him.

It is as valid today, perhaps even more so than it was at the time of its initial delivery. And I say so conscious that principles only mean something when it is inconvenient to stand by them.

Conscious that this region must always cheek itself to ensure that we do not become the pawns of others, the satellites of others, but that we keep every most and uppermost in our minds what we must do for our people without simply becoming pawns on a chessboard for others to be able to benefit from, she added.

The CARICOM chairman said that the sense of commitment to principle is what inspires the region to this position.

And therefore, it didnt take a lot of thought as to what our decision should be because this country does not pretend to be what it is not and does not pretend to have that which it doesnt. But it does aspire to be sincere and to be correct and to be moral and to be principled.

She told the audience that the expression delivered to Trump who offered to pay our dues to join the Organization of American States when Barrow politely refused and said in our part of the world where I come from, if you cannot afford the dues, you do not join the club.

That is the Barbados first to which I speak, she told the gala.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us or

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Mix up financing to better protect Caribbean, say experts – World – ReliefWeb

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By Sophie Hares, UNDRR Americas and the Caribbean

Menaced by increasingly violent hurricanes, Caribbean countries face an enormous bill to better protect themselves disasters and need to weave a web of financing options to help insulate against shocks, said speakers at a regional conference.

Boosting lackluster economic growth, ramping up insurance and disaster funds, and embracing the private sector would help bolster countries which needed to invest more in resilience, said speakers at the Comprehensive Disaster Management Conference (CDM11) in Sint Maarten.

"Budgeting for disaster should be a must for us all," said Silveria Jacobs, prime minister of Sint Maarten, which was ravaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

A common disaster fund and a joint insurance plan to protect the small businesses that drive local economies could help the region, she told the conference, organized by the Caribbean Disasters and Emergency Agency (CDEMA).

"Government cannot definitely not go it alone Business resilience drives the economy which ensures that islands can bounce back even faster," said Jacobs, who urged more investment in resilient infrastructure.

With many countries heavily indebted, creating layers of risk financing was key if countries are to limit the economic impact of disasters, which could also include flooding, drought, tsunamis and seismic activity, said speakers.

Risk financing layers should include funds shaved from national budgets, paired with fast-paying parametric insurance and access to lines of credit, said Ming Zhang, World Bank regional practice manager for urban and disaster risk management.

While new insurance products could help protect livelihoods and the fishing industry in the event of disasters, there was more scope to expand insurance to include households and small businesses, said Zhang in an interview.

"You cannot set up a contingency fund to address a Category 5 hurricane," said Zhang, who estimates disasters cost the Caribbean 1 percent of its gross domestic product each year.

"You need a risk financing strategy each country should look at different layers and different contingencies, insurance and other mechanisms."

While countries such as St. Lucia and Grenada were looking to set up disaster funds bolstered by lines of credit, there needs to be more focus on how money was being spent in the region to better prepare for disasters, he said.

More advanced recovery planning was needed to make sure emergency shelters and supplies were available, while strengthening homes and infrastructure could help reduce economic impact down the track, he said.

"In the midst of borrowing for public investment, governments need to ensure that these funds are certainly being spent to ensure resilience," said Ronald Jackson, CDEMA executive director, said in an interview.

"That's one area that will drive down exposure and be a lower cost to government when these events occur."


Emergency cash payments to small businesses, farmers and the most vulnerable after hurricanes in Barbados and Dominica helped stimulate the local economies and get people back on their feet, said speakers.

But countries needed to ensure adequate systems were in place to disperse social protection payments to make sure they reach the right people as quickly as possible, they added.

"No single financial instrument is the solution, we have to adopt a risk layering approach," Nicholas Grainger, programme associate at the World Food Programme, told the conference.

Given the private sector shells out for up to 85 percent of all investment and absorbs the lion's share of disaster losses, businesses should be closer involved in trying to driving down risk and promoting economic resilience, said speakers.

"It's very clear that reducing disaster risk cannot be done by one actor or sector alone," Nahuel Arenas, Deputy Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, told the conference.

"Resilient investment is about integrating risk through business practices and investment decisions."

The UNDRR-backed business network, known as The Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies or ARISE, is growing quickly in the Caribbean where companies are increasingly aware that disaster risk reduction (DRR) makes sound business sense, said speakers.

Jeffrey Beckles, chief executive of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, said the private sector wanted a greater role in DRR given it was a major employer and driver of growth.

It also has a lot to lose. Businesses suffered some 90 percent of the massive losses in the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian in September, he added.

"We bring to the table the ability to look further down the road than any single administration," Beckles told the conference.

"We bring to the table a much deeper, wider capacity for casting a longer-term strategy for resiliency and prospects for our country's stability,"

Developing the digital and blue economies, while finding ways to expand the benefits of industries such as tourism could help bolster the region's economy and ultimately make households more resilient, said speakers.

"Resilient people build resilient lives, and resilient communities and economies," said Sint Maarten's Jacobs.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: 10 Best Jack Sparrow Quotes – Screen Rant

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Every franchise needs a breakout character to establish itself, and Pirates of the Caribbean had its star-making performancein Captain Jack Sparrow. He has been so popular that the series has exclusively relied on the audience draw that comes with the character with each film.

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Jack is such an interesting figure that even his very first appearance had everything you needed to know about him - in a scene where he didnt even speak. But his strongest suit remains his fast tongue, and here are 10 of the best quotes that we heard Captain Jack Sparrow say in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Jack hasapersonality that brims with confidence, and hefindspositivity even in the worst of positions. During the first part, everybody tended to underestimate Jacks worth, who only proved them wrong every time.

In this scene, Commodore Norrington looked to take the mickey out of Jack by listing down all the things that made him the worst pirate that Norrington had ever heard. To this, Jack pointed out that, while Norringtons assertion might not be wrong, the latter had still heard of him, meaning Jack was still someone worth knowing.

Talking your way out of a bad situation is a much more valuable technique than fighting out of it, as it avoids needless conflict and an easy getaway. We all know that Jack isnt supposed to be Superman who can just punch his way around, but his effectiveness was perhaps just as great.

Jacks method of putting the other person in a false sense of security by playing the fool meant he could wiggle his way to freedom and even walk away with something in return. This allowed him to catch weaknesses in his enemy that he could use later on.

Many wondered how Jack remained on top of his game even though it appeared as if everyone was out to get his head. The answer would be that Jack was always mentally prepared for his battles. He did thingson the fly rather than have it premeditated.

He did this by having the right attitude to approach his problems, as Jack would take the situation in stride rather than rue over it. This quote was actually one of the rare glimpses in Jacks mind, which told us that he improvised his solutions each time.

Jack was clearly a shipper on deck in the matter of Will and Elizabeth, providing one-liners as his pieces of advice for the two of them to get their act together. Will, being the shy guy that he was, never knew when to make his move on her.

RELATED:10 Things The Pirates Of The Caribbean Reboot Needs

Jack inwardly decided he would look out for when Will would have his opening where the moment arrived. Catching onto it, he informed Will that his opportune moment with Elizabeth had just passed. He didnt say this to mock him; rather, it was Jack telling Will that Elizabeth loved him too and there was nothing to fear.

Pirates are those without honor, and they look for openings where they can cheat and win their fights. While Jack was of the same mold, he wasnt one to take an innocents life this way. After he defeated Will through his cheating, Jack found him still standing in the way.

Anyone such as Barbossa wouldve instantly shot and killed Will, but Jack insisted Will move out; he even used please as a request. With a solitary bullet in his gun - that was meant for Barbossa - Jack confessed that he only had one target for that bullet.

Playing the fool and being a fool are two very different things, and Jack fellin the former category easily. While incarcerated, he heard the Black Pearl approaching as the other inmates started freaking out over the undead crew.

Jack proved he was hardly as gullible and foolish as the other pirates when he scoffed at the idea that the undead crew never left anyone alive. He made the very true and hilarious point that it wasnt possible for there to be any stories about the Black Pearl if nobody who encountered it was allowed to live.

Jacks superhero equivalent would definitely be Tony Stark, as he had the same level of wit and snark that Tony had. In between his many rants, Jack would generally throw in words of wisdom that ultimately were profound and meaningful.

Unlike the other pirates, Jacks idea of treasure wasnt the silver and gold kind as he was above such worldly pleasures. It was by knowing where the limits of treasure began and ended that Jack knew when to fold and walk away rather than lose his life for something that ultimately was a superficial prize.

Perhaps we spoke too soon on Jacks idea of treasure, seeing as he did seem to value rum above everything else in the world. If you were to ask him if he wanted world peace or rum, then Jack would easily give the world away for a bottle.

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Unfortunately for him, he had horrible luck when it came to keeping said rum within his reach as circumstances around him always led to Jack being devoid of his favorite drink. At one point, in his exasperation, he asked this very question to the universe.

Never trust a pirate because they always lie, but poor Jack doesnt get trusted even though he doesnt lie all that much. If you notice, Jack tends to skirt around the truth rather than tell an outright lie. He plays the others distrust in him to his advantage.

However, Jack himself didnt seem to understand why people didnt consider him a truthful person, as when Norrington confessed his surprise that Jack really was telling the truth during a particular situation, the latter voiced his exasperation that his honesty is always met with surprise.

The funny thing is that whenever Jack says this line, things end up going very badly for him. Even funnier is how he tends to say it after hes managed to pull off a great escape, only for karma to come roaring back at him the next moment.

And yet, it still ranks as Jacks finest line because it tells you most of what his characterization is. The quote conveys that Jack is a confident man capable of talking his way out of any given situation, and that those who encounter him would always remember him for the larger than life person that he was.

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Saim Cheeda is an entertainment writer covering all of Film, TV, Gaming and Books. He's been a writer for Valnet since 2017, contributing 500+ articles for The Gamer, The Things, Game Rant, Comic Book Resources and Screen Rant. Apart from freelance writing, Saim is a lifestyle blogger, co-owning the blog 3 States Apart.

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St. Thomas named one of Caribbean’s best fishing destinations – Virgin Islands Daily News

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St. Thomas has been named one of the best fishing destinations in the Caribbean for 2020, according to

The list was based on a number of factors, such as user reviews, quality of fishing, and overall experience, and resulted in a list of the 12 best fishing spots in the Caribbean, according to a news release.

St. Thomas is a true paradise for any type of visitor. From some of the worlds most stunning beaches, to amazing nature, to numerous museums, forts, and historic houses, theres something here for everyone. And anglers here are in for a treat! Offshore, they can expect to catch anything from marlin, mahi mahi, and sailfish, to tuna and wahoo, while inshore, kingfish, bonito, barracuda, and yellowtail snapper are biting, according to the statement.

FishingBooker is the worlds largest platform for connecting anglers and fishing guides, with over 30,000 fishing trips available in more than 1,950 cities worldwide.

Other destinations on the list include Montego Bay, Jamaica, Freeport, Bahamas, and Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

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10 unexpected foods to eat on the Caribbean island of Curacao – USA Today 10Best

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 11:04 am

Iguana, fish, fries, rice and fried plantain at Jaanchie's in Westpunt, Curacao Photo courtesy of Justin Blasi

Daydreams of island vacations usually include sunny visions of pina coladas and freshly caught seafood enjoyed beachside. While Curacao has plenty of both, the countrys blend of influences African, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Jewish and more creates an eclectic cuisine you might not expect to find on an island in the Caribbean.

So go ahead and order that fruity frozen cocktail, but make sure to sample some of these 10 dishes and drinks, too.

Bitterballen and mozzarella sticks at Cafe Old Dutch Photo courtesy of Rachel Vigoda

This quintessential Dutch snack is as common on Curacao as blue skies and beach chairs. The Netherlands colonized Curacao in the 1600s and it remained under Dutch rule until 2010. Today its still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but as an autonomous country.

Four-hundred-plus years of Dutch in Curacao means that Dutch fried favorites, especially bitterballen, are easy to find at any bar or sidewalk cafe.

The beer-friendly bite-sized snack is a breaded, deep-fried ball of gooey beef and gravy and its typically served with mustard for dipping. Take a mid-afternoon break for a cold Polar pilsner and a plate of bitterballen or frikandel (deep-fried sausage) at Cafe Old Dutch, a laid-back European-styled pub with sports memorabilia on the walls in Willemstad, Curacaos capital.

Keshi yena at Avila Beach Hotel Photo courtesy of Justin Blasi

Curacaos tangled history includes its role as a center of the transatlantic slave trade. The countrys unofficial national dish is based around Dutch cheeses, but it likely has origins among enslaved Africans. They would turn leftover Edam or Gouda rinds into a meal by stuffing them with spiced chicken, and odds and ends like raisins, then bake the whole thing until the flavors fused.

"You can make it different ways, but the best-known way is with chicken and vegetables. They used to wrap it all in a banana leaf and put it in the oven," says Adrian Lake, chef at the upscale Pen restaurant at Willemstads Avila Beach Hotel, the longest-running hotel on the island.

Lake serves keshi yena the shredded chicken studded with raisins and olives and wrapped in melted Gouda with sides of rice, fried plantain, string beans and a krioyo (creole) sauce of onions, paprika, tomato puree and tomato sauce.

Giambo at Plasa Bieu in Willemstad, Curacao Photo courtesy of Justin Blasi

When asked about local foods, chef Lake brings up another African-Caribbean dish, giambo. He stops slightly short of recommending it, since the most accurate way to describe the stew, heavy with okra, is "slimy," but admits it definitely belongs on Curacaos list of must-try meals.

The green stew is a mix of okra, fish, salted meat (beef or goat) and basil. Dip a spoon in, pull it up, and youll see a trail of okra slime its a love it or hate it texture. Ask for a sample at Plasa Bieu (also called Marshe Bieu) in Willemstad. The busy cafeteria features a row of vendors selling local foods.

Plasa Bieu is a good spot to try another ubiquitous dish, karni stoba. The beef stew also made with kabritu (goat) is a hearty dish of cubed, marinated meat simmered with different combinations of onions, garlic, cumin, curry, nutmeg, bell peppers and tomatoes.

Youll find it everywhere, from the casual cafeteria to the elegant Restaurant & Caf Gouverneur de Rouville, set in a historic mansion overlooking the St. Anna Bay and the colorful row of Dutch colonial buildings that line the water.

Vendors at Plasa Bieu sell pumpkin pancakes Photo courtesy of Justin Blasi

Morning is one option for when to eat these sweet, fluffy-yet-dense pumpkin pancakes. But they also work as a cinnamon-sugary side dish with a plate of savory stoba or on their own as a filling snack.

Jaanchie's is the go-to spot for iguana Photo courtesy of Rachel Vigoda

You may not want to eat an iguana after spotting the regal lizards roaming around beaches and between tables at outdoor cafes in the more rugged western part of the island. But if youve got a hankering, iguana on a plate isnt hard to find.

The go-to spot is Jaanchies in Westpunt, an area thats much less developed than Willemstad to the east. Owner Jan "Jaanchi" Cristiaan stops by every table to talk through food options. If you havent had iguana before, hell encourage you to order a smaller portion along with something else, like a grouper fillet.

Its not a bad idea, considering the work that goes into eating iguana. It tastes like chicken (of course) but its filled with small bones. (On the other hand, as local lore has it, iguana is an aphrodisiac.)

Ask for a table by the big open windows so you can watch black and lemon-yellow birds frenetically amass on the hanging bowls Cristiaan fills with sugar.

Located less than 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Curacao counts South American cooking among its culinary influences. When you stop at a batidos truck for a mango or soursop shake (skip the milk and sugar for a bright burst of natural sweetness), check out the rest of the menu; chances are good youll see a few types of pastechi listed.

The savory, crescent-shaped, fried or baked pastry is similar to an empanada, though the dough is usually lighter. Common fillings for this handheld breakfast or snack include Gouda cheese or ground meat.

Sea Side Terrace in Curacao Photo courtesy of Justin Blasi

Seafood on an island is a no-brainer, whether its conch with garlic and butter or fried red snapper. But how about fish of the venomous variety? At Sea Side Terrace in Willemstad, Heinrich "Enchi" Ensermo has been feeding locals and tourists at palm treeshaded tables just steps from the beach for 25 years.

His mostly seafood menu often includes lionfish, the striped fish known for its long, venomous spines and its status as an unwelcome invasive species in the Caribbean, as well as other parts of the Atlantic. Getting them out of the water is a good thing and when you remove their sharp spines, theyre good to eat.

Dig into the white, buttery meat with a sprinkle of fiery pika sauce and sides of funchi (polenta) or fries drizzled with mayo and ketchup.

Turning curacao liqueur its signature bright blue shade Photo courtesy of Justin Blasi

Its no surprise that in a country named Curacao, youll find an original distillery that makes authentic curacao liqueur. But heres something you might not have expected: Senior & Co. makes red, orange, green, clear and the best-known blue curacao and they all taste exactly the same. The only difference is the color.

Spanish conquerors brought Valencia orange trees to the island in the 1500s but the hot, arid climate turned the fruit bitter and eventually created laraha trees, a descendant of Valencia with highly unpleasant oranges. In the late 1800s, business partners Haim Mendes Chumaceiro and Edgar Senior starting using the dried peels of the laraha fruit to make liqueur and bottling it for sale.

The distillery that came out of their collaboration is still in operation today, with the original copper kettle imported from Philadelphia, and open for tours and tastings. Make sure to try the tamarind, rum raisin, coffee and chocolate varieties of curacao too.

Green rum at Netto Bar in Willemstad's Otrobanda neighborhood Photo courtesy of Rachel Vigoda

Curacao has a thing for colored alcohol. But unlike the curacao liqueur, the islands rom berde, or green rum, doesnt taste like its clear counterparts. Along with its electric color, the rum has a strong licorice flavor.

It's said to have been invented at Netto Bar, a dive in Willemstads Otrobanda neighborhood open since 1954 and decorated in old photos, license plates and images of the Dutch royal family. Ask for it mixed with Sprite, or order a shot if youre feeling daring.

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Dominica Is the Fastest Growing Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean Region Thanks to Booming Tourism and Citizenship by Investment, UN ECLAC…

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LONDON, Jan. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) from the United Nations indicates that the Commonwealth of Dominica was the fastest growing economy in the entire Latin America and the Caribbean region in 2019. The island's GDP is said to have jumped up by 9%, attributed to Citizenship by Investment (CBI), soaring tourism numbers and public sector construction.

Foreign investors sought to obtain second citizenship from Dominica through the CBI Programme, choosing to either make a minimum US$100,000 contribution to a government fund or invest in pre-approved real estate, such as luxury resorts and boutique hotels. Some reasons driving investors' trust are linked to them seeking to belong to a stable democracy with great diplomatic relations, a trustworthy business environment and a promising economic future. Importantly, Dominica's CBI Programme is considered the best in the world, employing reliable due diligence that particularly attracts global individuals and families with indisputable integrity.

Dominica is leading the macroeconomic expansion in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). According to the ECLAC report, "construction activity increased across all ECCU economies" but it was especially notable in Dominica. "The robust performance of the tourism sector, as well as the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes and public sector-fuelled construction activity, were primary drivers of ECCU-wide GDP growth in 2019," the report notes.

The real estate option under CBI forms the foundation of a promising ecotourist sector, able to compete on the international market. Stopovers in Dominica increased threefold, the ECLAC report found, with cruise ship arrivals specifically increasing sevenfold. This is an even more impressive achievement considering the fact that island had suffered a loss worth 226% of GDP after Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

The other CBI option, known as the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF), in turn helps sponsor major nationwide development projects, either partially or fully. These include rehabilitating roads and bridges, creating new health centres, supporting education initiatives, building hurricane-proof public housing, an international airport and a geothermal plant.

Synergetically, investors' contributions through CBI are leading to an overall economic boom in Dominica, with good prospects for long-term sustainable growth. The island started investing in climate resilience in recent years and the results are paying off.


SOURCE CS Global Partners

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A busy year in the Caribbean: Elections – Global Americans

Posted: at 11:04 am

The Caribbean has a challenging year ahead as voters are set to head to the polls in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Elections will be hard-fought throughout the region, and with the economic outlook for the Caribbean being relatively positivethe International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a pick-up in growth from 3.3 percent in 2019 to 3.7 percent in 2020the electorate of each country will keep a close eye on how candidates look to divide the economic pie.

Indeed, the economy is the most important issue for most voters across the Caribbean. In Guyana and Suriname this will take on greater meaning in light of massive offshore oil discoveries in the former, and a recent major oil discovery off the coast of the latter, strongly suggesting a similar hydrocarbon bounty. One last country that is overdue for national elections is Haiti, but the countrys political turmoil has meant that the vote has been postponed (in 2019) and no future date has been given.

Below is an overview of the upcoming Caribbean elections.

Guyana (Presidential/Parliamentary elections)

Guyana, which saw its elections postponed in 2019, heads to the polls on March 2.The election will be closely monitored as this South American country of a little under 800,000 people emerges as one of the worlds newest oil powers. Guyanas newfound fame became evident when it made the front page of The Wall Street Journal on January 2, 2020, with an article titled This Stock Exchange Only Trades on Mondays: Guyanas Sleepy Stock Exchange Braces for Change.The article focused on the low level of activity in Guyanas local stock exchange, however, the sleepy exchange would soon wake up when oil money begins to flood into country.

As Guyanese voters head to the polls they have to consider how the next government will manage the countrys newfound wealth, which according to the IMF is expected to make the economy expand in excess of 80 percent in 2020. Will voters re-elect President David Grangers A Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC), or the opposition candidate Irfaan Ali, a former Minister of Housing running under the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP)?

Founded in 2011, the APNU groups several parties, including the largest political party, the Peoples National Congress (PNC)supported, to a large extent, by the countrys Afro-Guyanese community. The AFC was created in 2005 by dissident PNC members, and created an alliance with the APNU in 2015. Running against the APNU-AFC alliance is the center-left PPP, which was founded in 1950 and is generally supported by the Indo-Guyanese community. Political emotions are high in Guyana due to the postponement of the election last year, corruption accusations, and questions over contracts between the country and major oil companies.

The Dominican Republic (Presidential/Congressional elections)

In the Dominican Republics election the run-up has already seen considerable jockeying for position among presidential candidates in the countrys two major parties:the Dominican Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Dominicano or PRD) and the Dominican Liberation Party (Partido de la Liberacin Dominicana or PLD).The PLD currently makes up the government, headed by President Danilo Medina, who is not seeking re-election. Medina did explore the possibility of a third term, but this would require a constitutional change and was strongly opposed by much of the public.

While the Dominican Republic has seen strong economic expansion over the years, one of the major issues for the upcoming vote will concern income inequality. One Dominican speaking to a Bloomberg journalist in October 2019 outlined the countrys key issues: The economy grows, but doesnt flow down to us. There is no drainage system, water arrives every three days, and the lights go out for 24 hours at a time. This boils down to the need for better infrastructure in the areas of sanitation, water and electrical generation and distribution. The response also touches upon another more sensitive issue, which will no doubt be part of the campaign trail: official corruption.

A tough battle is expected over who will be the Dominican Republics next leader and deal with these issues, as well as its struggles with Haiti, which shares a lengthy land border with the country and is in a state of political turmoil, and the China-U.S. cold war.

Suriname (General Elections)

Surinames election should be equally as interesting. While the economy has enjoyed a gradual recovery from an earlier slump in key commodity prices, the incumbent president, Desi Bouterse, has been the dominant political figure in the country since 1980. In late November 2019 he was convicted for the murder of 15 political opponents in 1982 and sentenced to 20 years in prison by Surinames court system.That wasnt the first time hes been caught up in controversy.

Years earlier, Boutersewas convicted by the Netherlands for cocaine smuggling and more recently was accused of helping Venezuelan gold transit through Surinameto overseas markets. His son, Dino, sits in a U.S. federal prison after he was caught offering Hezbollah use Suriname as a base for its organization as well as for a sale of cocaine.

Despite those political blemishes, Bouterse has maintained a degree of popularity in the country partially due to the economic recovery of the country and his personal charisma. He has largely ignored the recent courts findings against him.

Surinames leader has also moved his country closer to China after a visit toBeijing in November 2019. During his visit, President Bouterse stated: Suriname firmly pursues one-China policy and supports Chinas grand cause of national reunification.He returned to Suriname with a promise of $300 million by the Chinese government to upgrade airports and roads and install solar power and 5G services.

President Bouterse, now 74, has stated that he is seeking re-election, or his third term in office. The election could be tension-packed if the opposition is able to stir enough public dissent toward Bouterses leadership issues, focused on his recent murder convictions.

President Bouterses National Democratic Party (NDP)-led government has the advantage of holding numerous seats in officehaving won 26 of 51 seats in the countrys National Assembly in 2015and enjoying the benefit of economic recovery,with real GDP expected to rise 2.5 percent this year. An unexpected added bonus for the government is a large offshore oil discovery in January 2020 by Apache and Total, holding out the prospect for a major boost to the national economy, much as what is occurring in neighboring Guyana.

With eyes focused on the presidential elections given Bouterses murder conviction, raising concerns over the rule of law; Surinames closer alignment to China, opposing U.S. concerns in the Caribbean; and concerns over who will be in charge of overseeing the countrys future monetizing of oil wealth, this is a major election for Suriname.

Trinidad and Tobago (Parliamentary elections)

While there is no official date for the Trinidad and Tobagos elections, they must be called by September 2020. The incumbent Peoples National Movement (PNM) led by Prime Minister Keith Rowley will face a tough challenge from the United National Congress (UNC), led by Kamla Persad Bissessar (a former prime minister from 2010-2015). Currently, there is a third party with representation in the parliament, the Congress of the People (COP), but it only holds one seat.

Trinidad and Tobagos economy has been in the grips of a prolonged recession driven by energy supply shocks and low energy prices. No doubt the economy will be the major issue for the campaign. The IMF is forecasting 1.5 percent growth for 2020, an improvement over two brutal years of economic contraction in 2016 and 2017, 0.3 percent growth in 2018 and zero growth last year. Unemployment has fallen, after peaking in 2017 at a little over 5.0 percent and is most likely around four percent, according to theCentral Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad and Tobagos political life is also being conditioned by other issues, such as the ongoing inflow of Venezuelan refugees and their accommodation, high levels of criminal violencesome of it related to the arrivals from Venezueladomestic violence and corruption. Although the election has not been officially called, both major political parties are in campaign mode.

Belize (Parliamentary elections)

Belize is set to head to the polls in November. The incumbent government is that of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, head of the United Democratic Party (UDP), which has been in office since 2008. It appears that Prime Minister Barrow will not be running in the November election due to health reasons. The UDP currently holds 19 seats to the opposition Peoples United Partys (PUP) 12 seats. The PUP is headed by Johnny Briceno and is considered a center-left Christian Democratic party.

The election is most likely to be driven by the state of the economy and the desire for a change of government, considering that the UDP has been in power since 2008. The economy remains in recovery since a recession in 2016, with real GDP expanding by 3.2 percent in 2018 and by an estimated 1.5 percent in 2019. Growth slowed down in 2019 due to severe drought experienced in the country. Belizes economic outlook, however, is challenging. As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in December 2018: Public debt remains elevated, at above 90 percent of GDP. Belize is vulnerable to weaker U.S. growth, which could impact tourism, to higher oil prices, and weather-induced natural disasters. Violent crime poses risks to growth, competitiveness, and macroeconomic stability.

Considering the IMFs statement, key issues during this election cycle are expected to include economic growth, employment generation, government finances and public safety related to the countrys high crime rate. With the current government having been in power since 2008, there could be calls demanding new blood run the country.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Parliamentary elections)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, one of the Caribbeans longest serving prime ministers, has indicated that the elections will be held in December. Gonsalves center-left Unity Labor Party,or ULP, won the last election in 2015, winning eight seats to seven against the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).

One of the key issues in the Vincentian political arena is what some may see as the need for a change at the governments helm. Gonsalves has served several consecutive terms as prime minister since 2001 and now is 73 years of age. To his supporters, he has been a steady presence, guiding the country through a lengthy period in the countrys life, raising the standard of living, pushing alternative energy and hopefully creating a stronger economy. At the same time, his long tenure in office has raised questions over his behavior and when he will depart from the political scene and let someone else become prime minister.

The NDP is led by Dr. Godwin Friday who claims that irregularities in the 2015 election prevented it from winning the ministership. The government has denied these allegations. For its part, the ULP government is likely to run on the theme of economic recovery, taking credit for a considerable pickup in growth from the tough years of 2016-2017 to 2.0 percent in 2018 and 2.3 in 2019. If the 2015 election is any indication, 2020 could be a close and hard-fought affair.

St. Kitts and Nevis (Parliamentary elections)

In St. Kitts-Nevis the coalition Team Unity government under Prime Minister Timothy Harris, leader of the Peoples Labour Party, presided over the economic recovery of 2016 to 2017 to a marked rebound starting in 2018 (see real GDP table). This period also saw improvements in government finances. Part of the reason for the improvement in the economy is the Caribbean countrys use of its Citizenship-by-Investment program. While this has brought in revenues to the country, it has also incurred international criticism over issues of transparency and disclosure as well as local questioning as to where all of the funds go.

The issues most likely to surface during the countrys election this year are the future viability of the economy, how the citizenship program is regulated, and public safety due to a high crime rate. The Team Unity coalition is made up of the Peoples Action Movement (PAM), the Peoples Labour Party (PLP) and the Concerned Citizens Movement. The opposition St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party is headed by leader of the opposition and former Prime Minister Denzil Douglas (he served in that capacity from 1995 to 2015).

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I spent a day on Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean. It was as spectacular as you can imagine. – Business Insider

Posted: at 11:04 am

I've traveled a lot, but I've never traveled to a private island owned by a British billionaire. In fact, come to think of it, I've never traveled to a private island at all.

So when I heard that I'd be part of the first group of media since 2016 to set foot on Richard Branson's Necker Island, I honestly had no idea what to expect.

Some background: Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, who founded theVirgin Group and has a$4 billion net worth, bought the 74-acre island for $180,000 back in 1978. In September 2017, the Caribbean island suffered extensive damage in the path of Hurricane Irma. Several buildings on site were destroyed, and the resort was closed for months. Repairs started in December 2017, Travel + Leisure reported at the time, and have been ongoing.

About a year later, in October 2018, it was officially back in business. And this past November, I got to spend a day on the island.

Spoiler alert: It was one of the top experiences of my entire life.

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I spent a day on Richard Branson's private island in the Caribbean. It was as spectacular as you can imagine. - Business Insider

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