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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Some areas of country shut down by 1-day general strike; tourist zones unaffected
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ Many businesses closed and transportation was hobbled Monday as Dominican workers launched a one-day general strike to push for wage increases and protest tax hikes and rising inflation.
In many poor neighborhoods of the capital of Santo Domingo, storefronts were shuttered along streets that were blocked by barricades of flaming tires. Government offices, shops and banks in wealthier districts remained open.
Taxi and truck drivers, teachers, non-emergency hospital staff and other workers participated in the strike organized by the Alternative Social Forum, a coalition of labor unions.
Strike organizers are demanding a 35 percent across-the-board raise for workers, a solution to rolling power outages that have long plagued the country, and big reductions in the cost of food, medicine and fuel.
The strike's economic impact was not immediately known. The Caribbean country's major tourist zones were not impacted.
Antonio Marte, leader of the Conatra transport union, said that roughly 95 percent of the syndicate's 70,000 taxi and mini-bus drivers were participating in the strike across the country of nearly 10 million people.
"Transport is paralyzed, the productive activities are reduced to a minimum," said Fidel Santana, spokesman of the Alternative Social Forum.
The union's figures could not be verified, but throughout the capital and other cities, traffic was visibly reduced.
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CAYMAN ISLANDS: Official blasts poor management, interference in gov't procurement practices
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (AP) _ Political interference and shabby management of procurement practices is damaging the Cayman Islands' credibility with suppliers and likely wasting millions of dollars, the U.K. territory's auditor general announced Monday.
Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick made the comments in a report evaluating how the British Caribbean territory's government was managing the contracting and purchasing of supplies, services and assets worth over $250,000.
Swarbrick found instances of some politicians interfering in the procurement process and reported that "significant risks of abuse, mismanagement, fraud and corruption may result." He did not disclose specific examples or name politicians.
He said he was also disconcerted to discover that the government had few formal contracting processes in place to help save some money and that there was no official responsible for insuring that ministries and other government agencies were buying supplies at the lowest possible cost.
"I found no one in the government is responsible for doing this. There is a lack of central leadership and the result is that the government is likely wasting several millions of dollars," Swarbrick said.
Premier McKeeva Bush called on the deputy governor to prepare an urgent response to Swarbrick's report, including the creation of an action plan to address the shortcomings.
Bush said the auditor general's report highlights "serious shortcomings in our procurement system which we need to address and to address quickly."
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PUERTO RICO: Grand jury charges 2 parents with using teenage son in child pornography
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The U.S. Attorney in Puerto Rico says an island couple have been charged with using their teenage son to make child pornography.
Rosa Emilia Rodriguez says the man and woman from Ponce used a digital camera and cell phone camera to take sexually explicit images of the 14-year-old. They are charged with distributing the images for commercial gain.
The two were identified as Hector Serrano Soto and Junitza Torres Rivas.
Serrano and Torres made their initial appearance on the federal charges Monday. They did not enter a plea and neither yet has a lawyer. They are to return to court next week for a bail hearing. Rodriguez said in a statement that face 15-30 years in prison.
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ANTIGUA: Expert: 2 men accused of killing British couple had gunshot residue on clothes
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua (AP) _ A forensic expert has testified that clothing seized from two Antiguan men accused of fatally shooting British honeymooners and a Jamaican shopkeeper tested positive for gunshot residue.
Dr. Richard Moynehan says that his lab tested several items of clothing seized from the homes of defendants Kaniel Martin and Avie Howell in 2008. He says the clothes had gunshot residue on them.
He is the 80th witnesses who has testified so far in the month-long murder trial of British honeymooners Catherine and Benjamin Mullany . He testified Monday.
The Mullanys were attacked in 2008 during an apparent robbery at their vacation cottage on the last day of their honeymoon. Both were 31 and from Wales.
Howell and Martin have pleaded not guilty.


Updated : 2021-08-01 05:28 GMT+08:00