By Rozeena Taylor
To go or not to go: In what could be easily interpreted as shots fired, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau released a statement warning U.S. citizens to keep caution in mind while visiting the Bahamas, stating that there has been an increase in armed robberies in the New Providence area. The address suggests that U.S. citizens should remain vigilant, especially concerning the use of ATMs, and take certain precautions in their travels. The new four-page address from the embassy was issued just two days after the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration released an advisory regarding Bahamian citizens traveling to the U.S. The Bahamian government warned its citizens to avoid protests and confrontation with American police officials during travel, in light of recent shootings in the U.S. Similar travel advisory warnings have been issued recently regarding U.S. citizens traveling throughout several countries in Central America, East Asia, and the Middle East. For the official four page address, click here.
Protect the reefs: The Belizean Barrier Reef is still on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage Danger list due to offshore drilling and exploration. Heritage sites that are deemed in danger are advised by and work with UNESCO to develop plans to protect the natural resources or habitats that have come under threat. As of December 2015, Belize has been working to negotiate limits for offshore activity and develop long-term solutions to protect the reef and satisfy the interests of the financial entities involved. A number of conservation agencies have called for tighter restrictions and even a complete ban on offshore activity until the Belizean government can issue a definitive answer to the threat facing the country’s beautiful sea life and oceanic ecosystem.
Zika-Rico: More than 1,330 new cases of the Zika virus were reported in Puerto Rico just last week; an unprecedented increase since the outbreak began. Out of concern for wildlife and agricultural efforts, no aerial spraying was done to help decrease mosquito numbers despite warnings from Zika researchers. The U.S Center for Disease Control warns Puerto Rican officials that the number of infected will continue to increase before peaking later this summer.
Sex Trafficking in T&T: The U.S. Department of State ranked Trinidad and Tobago on its Tier 2 Watch List this summer for rampant sex trafficking. The ranking system starts at Tier 1 (lower number of incidents) and proceeds to Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch list, and Tier three (threatening number of incidents). The report states that young undocumented women and men, often from Venezuela and searching for employment, are coerced into criminal activity and the sex trade. Many of these transactions are carried out through unofficial bars and brothels which make the illegal acts difficult to track. Finally, the report goes on to suggest that the Trinidadian government escalate its measures to investigate and convict sex traffickers.
Danger in U.S.V.I.: U.S. V.I. interim Governor Osbert Potter claims that gun violence in the three islands has increased and since January 2016, 32 gun-related deaths have occurred. The trio of islands: St. Thomas, St, John, and St. Thomas, are often used as a stop-over point between South America and the U.S. by weapons traffickers. This puts Virgin Islanders in harm’s way and consequently gives citizens access to the firearms used in the recent rash of shootings.