Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Caricom has Failed in having the Cuban Embargo Lifted
Sunday, May 28, 2023
The Crux of The Bahamas National Trade Policy
The Bahamas Ministry of Economic Affairs Launches First-Ever National Trade Policy
The New Bahamas Trade Policy is intended to lower trade deficit and empower local Bahamian businesses
The National Trade Policy was formally unveiled at a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Thursday, 25th of May, 2023. At this press conference, members of the media were afforded the opportunity to hear from the Minister of Economic Affairs, Senator, the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Bahamas Trade Commission Chairman, Philip Galanis, and other technical experts who highlighted the work that went into crafting the policy, as well as the impact it is projected to have.
Minister Halkitis stated that the primary objective of the national trade policy is to tap into the unexplored areas for the international trade of goods and services where there is vast potential for Bahamian businesses to benefit.
He noted that this policy will supplement the economic development and diversification initiatives that the Davis administration has taken on since taking office.
“The National Trade Policy is a key component of a wider developmental strategy to diversify the economy, empower Bahamian businesses domestically and internationally, and lower the trade deficit. Key areas that are being targeted by the government, such as niche agricultural and fisheries products, uniquely Bahamian crafts, food, and goods, and green, blue, and orange economy products and services will all benefit from this policy.”
Acknowledging the calls by local businesses for greater ease in conducting international business and exporting goods and services abroad, Minister Halkitis said that the National Trade Policy will help to facilitate the import and export of in-demand goods and services, ushering in a new era for trade in The Bahamas.
“We know that many businesses have called for the government to reform existing processes to make exporting their products more seamless. Through this policy, we believe that we have put the right mechanisms in place. We will expand awareness through stakeholder education to arm local businesses with everything they need to expand their customer base beyond the borders of The Bahamas.”
As the policy moves from the development phase to the implementation phase, Minister Halkitis noted that the government will continue to keep its ears open to local businesses and its eyes open for international opportunities.
“The policy we have before us today is the product of continuous stakeholder engagement. We have incorporated much of that engagement to ensure that the policy before us today is as strong and comprehensive as possible. As we implement the policy, the key is to remain agile and open to ways we can continue to strengthen the policy in response to local needs.”
Minister Halkitis encouraged all local businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in engaging in international trade to stay tuned as the government continues to engage with the local business community to empower businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the new national trade policy framework.
“Ultimately, the true measure of the effectiveness of this policy lies in its ability to empower Bahamian businesses, lower the trade deficit, and contribute to the creation of a more resilient and diverse economy. We encourage all businesses to get informed and get involved.”
Any business owners who wish to learn more about the National Trade Policy can download a full copy of the policy document at https://moea.gov.bs/the-bahamas-national-trade-policy.
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Closing the gaps that affect LGBTQ+ individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean
Barriers and social exclusion affecting LGBTQ+ individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean
An institution that promotes inclusion must ensure that there is a commitment to preventing and eliminating any manifestation of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals at the core of its organizational culture
Three Actions to Support LGBTQ+ Inclusion from an International Organization
How recent is the addition of LGBTQ+ issues in inclusion policy agendas?
Let’s put it into perspective. No longer than 50 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean decriminalized same-sex relationships in the 19th century, while others did so less than 20 years ago. Homosexuality is still a crime in six countries in the region. Thirteen years ago, Argentina became the first country in the region to legalize same-sex marriage. Five countries followed, with Costa Rica being the most recent in 2020. In 2004, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) was established as a commemoration every May 17th.
Therefore, it’s no surprise this is a relatively new topic on the agendas of international organizations such as development banks. The inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals, therefore, requires intentional efforts to invest in the issue and generate data and evidence on effective interventions. We are in a constant process of construction. At the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), we have taken firm steps in this direction. Here, I want to share three lines of action and learning that have emerged as part of this journey.
1.LGBTQ+ inclusion starts from within
An institution that promotes inclusion must ensure that there is a commitment to preventing and eliminating any manifestation of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals at the core of its organizational culture. This begins with our selection and recruitment processes. It also involves creating diverse and inclusive work environments. Finally, it translates into actions to ensure that the projects and knowledge products we support in the region include actions that contribute to closing the gaps that affect LGBTQ+ individuals. In this sense, the IDB has strong inclusion policies and constantly works to be a space where its employees can bring their most authentic selves.
2. Intersectionality and intersectionality
The actions we take must consider that LGBTQ+ discrimination is reflected in multiple spheres and in an intersectional way. This means that aspects such as sexual orientation, gender identity, race or ethnicity, and economic or migratory status overlap and intersect in various ways. For this reason, more work is required to understand the origin and impact of stigma and social exclusion.
Workplace inclusion programs like “Saber hacer vale” (Knowing How is Valuable) in Colombia, which includes LGBTQ+ individuals and focuses particularly on migrants, are an example of an intersectional approach. Another case is the loan to the ProMujeres program in Uruguay, which seeks to strengthen gender-based violence prevention and response systems with a strong focus on lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women. I also would like to highlight “Reprograma,” a digital skills education initiative in Brazil supported by BID Lab, which promotes the inclusion of transgender women in the technology sector.
Fighting LGBTQ+ discrimination is also important in the private sector. That’s why BID Invest is preparing a toolbox for companies that want to strengthen their inclusion policies. BID Invest also raises awareness about business opportunities and new markets when integrating the LGBTQ+ population as a workforce and potential customers.
3. Data for inclusion
The third point is to enhance the creation of knowledge about the LGBTQ+ population. In Latin America and the Caribbean, data is scarce. We know that we are underestimating the size of the LGBTQ+ population, but we don’t have the exact number of individuals belonging to it. We have even less evidence of the gaps that affect them.
The flagship book published annually by the IDB, “Development in the Americas”. will focus on gender policies in 2023. An innovative approach in this publication will be the inclusion of knowledge about LGBTQ+ individuals, providing a broader and deeper understanding of the gaps related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Additionally, last year, the IDB funded and published three new studies on the LGBTQ+ population. These publications were presented in a session on LGBTQ+ inclusion at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Economics Association (LACEA). In a live event on May 18th, the authors of the publications will share their findings on barriers and social exclusion affecting LGBTQ+ individuals in our region.
Inclusion is a journey to be traveled together
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is an occasion to highlight the heterogeneous progress in the inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals and to think of new strategies that lead to the end of stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On a day like today, it is important to make visible the multiple forms of exclusion that persist and, in some cases, have deepened. Therefore, the commitment of international organizations to strengthen an agenda that prioritizes accelerating the social and economic inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals is urgent.
Once again, multilateral development banks have joined efforts to organize a series of activities, events, and publications that are part of the IDAHOTB 2023 campaign, aiming to reaffirm their commitment to work against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identities. This year’s theme, “Always Together: United in Diversity,” encapsulates this collective effort. For multilateral banks and other international organizations, the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals is not just a one-day topic but an essential line of work in the development agenda.
In this link, you can find information about other events commemorating this date, as well as messages from executives of other organizations joining under this initiative.
Sunday, April 30, 2023
Stop deporting Haitians to Haiti - says UN
The UN independent human rights experts requested States parties in the Americas to investigate all allegations of excessive use of force, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and racial profiling against Haitians
The experts also called for measures to prevent and combat xenophobic and racist violence and incitement to racial hatred against people of Haitian origin, and to publicly condemn racist hate speech, including those uttered by public figures and politicians
CERD) sounded the alarm after 36,000 people of Haitian origin were deported during the first three months of the year, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Some 90 per cent were deported from the Dominican Republic.
Violations and abuses against Haitians
The experts expressed concern over collective expulsions which did not take into consideration individual circumstances and needs.
They also highlighted alleged human rights violations and abuses against Haitians on the move along migration routes, at borders and in detention centres in the Americas region, “as a result of strict migration control, the militarization of borders, systematic immigration detention policies and the obstacles to international protection” in some countries.
Such obstacles exposed these vulnerable migrants to “killings, disappearances, acts of sexual and gender-based violence, and trafficking by criminal networks”, the Committee warned.
Demanding protection for Haitian refugees
Caribbean countries, such as the Bahamas as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands, have announced measures against undocumented Haitian migrants. The United States in January also made public new border policies to permit fast-tracked expulsions to Mexico of Haitian migrants and others, crossing the southern border of the US without documentation.
Considering the desperate situation in Haiti, which does not currently allow for the safe and dignified return of Haitians to the country, as pointed out by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee called for an end to the collective expulsions of Haitians on the move.
It also said assessments of each individual case needed to be carried out, to identify protection needs in accordance with international refugee and human rights law, with particular attention to the most vulnerable groups.
Combatting racism and xenophobia
The independent human rights experts requested States parties in the Americas to investigate all allegations of excessive use of force, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and racial profiling against Haitians.
They also demanded protection of refugees against other allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed by both State and non-state actors; including at borders, migrant detention centres and along migration routes, to punish those responsible and to provide rehabilitation and reparations to victims or their families.
The experts also called for measures to prevent and combat xenophobic and racist violence and incitement to racial hatred against people of Haitian origin, and to publicly condemn racist hate speech, including those uttered by public figures and politicians.
Independent human rights experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva. They are mandated to monitor and report on specific thematic issues or country situations. They are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work.
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Does the accusation of the 2016 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels by Donald Trump seek to shut down the former US president or catapult him directly to elections 2024?
Donald Trump, farther or closer to the White House?
By Raúl Antonio Capote
The indictment makes the former president the first former president to face criminal charges in U.S. history.
Michael D. Cohen, Trump's lawyer and troubleshooter who pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations in August 2018, admitted that he helped arrange the payment to Daniels, in addition to another payment to a former Playboy model, to help Trump's presidential bid, on Trump's orders.
The payment made to Daniels sought the actress' silence ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Faced with the Court's accusation, Trump's response was immediate: "Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history," he said in a statement, according to La Opinión.
Adored by extreme right-wing groups and followers of the most irrational conspiracy theories, Trump began his run for the Republican Party's candidacy for the presidency with low scores in the polls.
Some analysts even predicted his defeat against other opponents; however, in the face of the possible indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the tycoon has climbed in the polls. According to the Fox News poll, Donald Trump has doubled his lead over Ron DeSantis by 30 percentage points.
In view of the situation created, questions arise in many people. Does the accusation seek to shut down the former president or catapult him directly to the elections? Is it a matter of enforcing justice in the United States, for the first time, in the case of a former president?
It happens that when we take a look at the process we find several interesting elements. It is true that when Trump was campaigning for the presidency, his team negotiated a confidentiality agreement with Daniels, in exchange for $130,000. However, the payment to the actress was made by Michael Cohen, and he has testified that he obtained the money from his home equity line of credit and that the amount was later reimbursed to him, which can be well exploited by his lawyers.
Another element that may work in favor of the defendant is the lack of precedent.
For more than two centuries, presidents - even those who have been affected by scandals - while in office have had immunity from prosecution, even enjoying that privilege when they leave office.
In U.S. elections, marked by setbacks and low blows to opponents, many things can happen. In addition, the 45th president of the United States is under indictment for possible crimes of insurrection, withholding classified documents and obstruction of justice in a national security case.
In the face of all that, being indicted for paying for the silence of a porn star doesn't seem so bad.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Reflection on the challenges that people with diverse gender identities face in accessing housing and inclusive environments in Latin America and the Caribbean
Discrimination and violence explain why trans individuals do not easily find a home to settle in
...the difficulty for trans individuals to access decent, safe, and affordable housing impacts their living conditions, health, and economic opportunities. It also affects their ability to plan their futures, their families’ futures, and prepare for old age
A House for Trans People
By Juanita Ardila Hidalgo - Andrea Monje
What does your home mean to you? For some, it is a place to grow, learn, and find a supportive environment with family members. A home is also the infrastructure that protects from weather, rain, and external dangers. Unfortunately, for trans people, the concept of home is often linked to discrimination and exclusion so painful that it leads them to leave when they are still very young. In fact, one of the most important studies about trans people in the United States found that 30% of those surveyed reported having been homeless at least once in their lives. On Trans Visibility Day, we want to reflect on the challenges that people with diverse gender identities face in accessing housing and inclusive environments in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Family: A First Contact With Violence?
The first place where children with diverse gender identities should receive protection and freedom to express themselves is in their own homes. However, it is precisely where many of the first forms of violence and discrimination manifest. An example of this rejection is the attempt to modify diverse gender expressions from an early age: a study of 3,246 LGBTQ+ students in Colombia found that among those who reported having experiences with “conversion therapies” to change their sexual orientation and gender identity, 78.6% attended by an obligation of their parents or caregivers. Cases of violence like this cause many young people with diverse gender identities to face homelessness, dropping out of school, or poverty from an early age, hindering their development and well-being.
Discrimination and violence explain why trans individuals do not easily find a home to settle in. Although cities can offer better living conditions and greater job opportunities, within them, there are few neighborhoods where housing is safe, dignified, and affordable. Some of the challenges they face are:
A study conducted in Bogotá on the mobility of trans individuals found that a small area of four-by-four blocks in the city center was one of the few places where participants experienced a sense of belonging and ownership. There, they built a safe zone, found alternatives for income generation, and created a support network to collectively confront street rejection and violence.
Discrimination in rental and credit applications
Barriers to obtaining formal jobs, in addition to social discrimination based on their gender identity or the inability to use the name they recognize as their own, lead many trans individuals to not make formal rental requests. According to a survey conducted in Argentina in 2013, eight out of ten trans individuals surveyed had not made any requests related to renting a property or obtaining a mortgage loan in their name. Additionally, three out of ten mentioned being rejected by their neighbors in the place where they live.
Additionally, trans individuals who apply for or request information about rental properties are subject to discrimination by landlords or real estate companies. A recent study by the Gender and Diversity Knowledge Initiative (GDLAB) of the IDB conducted in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru found that in all four countries, information requests for rental properties made by couples with a trans woman received 19% fewer responses, 27% fewer positive responses, and 23% fewer invitations to view the property than when the request was made by cisgender couples, whether they were heterosexual or homosexual.
Additionally, the difficulty for trans individuals to access decent, safe, and affordable housing impacts their living conditions, health, and economic opportunities. It also affects their ability to plan their futures, their families’ futures, and prepare for old age.
In this context, there are increasingly more projects aimed at promoting access to housing for trans individuals in Latin America. These solutions also create safe spaces to build community networks and foster a sense of belonging among individuals with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations.
• The Center for Attention to Sexual and Gender Diversity (CAIDSG, for it’s acronym in Spanish) is a space located in Bogotá that offers psychosocial care, legal advice, support for job placement, and information on care routes for cases of violence, among other services. This project is led by the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá with support from the IDB.
• Laetus Vitae is one of the first homes for LGBTQ+ seniors founded by trans-activist Samantha Flores in Mexico City with the aim of offering a suitable and dignified place of refuge for LGBTQ+ seniors.
• Programa Transcidadania is a public program implemented in Sao Paulo that aims to promote the social and economic inclusion of trans individuals, which includes monetary aid for education. Additionally, it offers psychological, legal, and social support to those who participate in the program.
These examples demonstrate that it is possible to contribute to improving the quality of life for trans and non-binary individuals. However, we still have a long way to go to fight discrimination and exclusion towards individuals with diverse gender identities. In the region, everyone should have a place we can call “my house,” and even better, “my home.”
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Migration in the Caribbean
A closer look at the Caribbean’s migratory systems
Similar to patterns of migration worldwide, migrants within the Caribbean tend to originate in countries with lower standards of living and fewer opportunities, moving to more advanced economies with more employment opportunities
Challenges and opportunities of migration in the Caribbean
By Valerie Lacarte - Ana María Saiz - Jordi Amaral - Diego Chaves-González - Jeremy Harris
To provide governments, stakeholders, and external partners interested in strengthening the region’s capacity to accommodate changing migration patterns, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Migration Policy Institute have partnered to provide a policy review on migration in the Caribbean.
The report Migration, Integration, and Diaspora Engagement in the Caribbean: A Policy Review provides those interested in human mobility across Latin America and the Caribbean with a general overview of the Caribbean region’s extra- and intraregional migration trends, institutional frameworks, and the challenges and opportunities that new migration flows present for its development and regional integration.
Recent changes in the migratory flows in the Caribbean
In 2020, there were an estimated 859,400 intraregional and 745,700 extraregional immigrants living in Caribbean countries. The intraregional share of migrants grew from 46% in 2000 to 56% in 2020.
The intraregional share and origins of immigrants vary across countries. In the nine primary countries studied in the report—The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago—immigrants from other Caribbean nations made up 63 percent of all immigrants in 2020. Intraregional migration was most common in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Barbados, and The Bahamas, and Haitians were by far the largest group of immigrants across these countries, followed by Guyanese.
Extraregional migration in the Caribbean
Additionally, the region’s public university system, the University of the West Indies, has facilitated migration for educational purposes, mainly within the anglophone Caribbean.
Challenges for a stronger regional integration
The region’s unique free mobility regimes have, to some extent, helped facilitate the movement of displaced people and response workers during times of environmental crisis. Yet a closer look at the Caribbean’s migratory systems indicates that, in most of the countries included in the study, these regimes are out of date, and this limits societies’ capacity to manage migration and successfully integrate new immigrants.
Diaspora engagement: An opportunity for the development of the Caribbean