27 November 2018


The admission of guilt by the President - an accomplished defender of French colonialism in his country -  comes weeks after a complaint was filed against the French state before the International Court of Justice on the consequences of 30 years of nuclear testing conducted in the atmosphere and waters of French Polynesia.

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Licorne test, 1971, French Polynesia. Photo: The Official CTBTO Photostream

Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

The Associated Press | 

PARIS — French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch has said the leaders of the French collectivity of islands in the South Pacific lied to the population for three decades over the dangers of nuclear testing.

From 1960 to 1996, France carried out 193 nuclear tests in French Polynesia. The images, such as a mushroom cloud over the Mururoa atoll, provoked international protests.

“I’m not surprised that I’ve been called a liar for 30 years. We lied to this population that the tests were clean. We lied,” Fritch told officials in the local assembly Thursday in footage broadcast by Tahiti Nui Television.

France’s overseas ministry declined to comment Friday.

Bowing to decades of pressure, in 2010 the French government offered millions of euros in compensation for the government’s 201 nuclear tests in the South Pacific and Algeria. But the process is painstaking and many have still not received compensation.

Bruno Barrillot, a whistleblower investigating the impact of the Polynesian nuclear testing who died last year, raised awareness on the disproportionate rates of thyroid cancer and leukemia to hit Polynesia’s 280,000 residents.

In 2016, then-President Francois Hollande acknowledged during a visit that nuclear weapons tests carried out in French territories in the South Pacific did have consequences for the environment and residents’ health.

But Hollande spoke also about the testing in positive terms as he praised the region’s contribution to France’s position as one of the world’s nine nuclear powers.

18 November 2018


Congresswoman Aumua Amata along with supporters late Monday afternoon during her campaign wave at Avau in Nu’uuli. [photo: Leua Aiono Frost]


By Fili Sagapolutele


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —Incumbent Congresswoman Aumua Amata is heading back to Washington D.C. for a third consecutive two-year term in office after being re-elected during yesterday’s mid-term election, beating out challengers Meleagi Suitonu-Chapman and Tuika Tuika.

The Republican congresswoman’s lead began with results from the polling stations in Manu’a dominating all polling stations. Amata has dominated the Manu’a polls in the past several elections. Manu’a polling stations completed early around 3 p.m.

And as the results started pouring in from polling stations on Tutuila, it became abundantly clear that Amata would return to Congress as she won all polling stations here too.

“Thank you very much for entrusting me with the responsibility of representing you in the U.S. Congress,” said Amata in her thank you message to the people of American Samoa. “I am humbled by your vote, more humbled than you know.”

“As your representative, I will continue to work enthusiastically with the other island Territories for equal treatment with the states in matters that affect us all, such as funding formulas, grants and projects that we need,” she said. (See today’s Samoa News edition for the Congresswoman’s Thank You message, as a paid advertisement.)

Of the total 8,638 ballots counted, Amata received 7,194 votes (83.3%); Suitonu-Chapman with 659 votes (7.6%) and Tuika got 785 votes (9.1%), according to the unofficial results released late last night by the Election Office.

In the 2016 election, Amata won 75.4% of the ballots counted. She was challenged by four candidates, including Suitonu-Chapman.

Candidates or voters have until 4:30 p.m, Nov. 13th to file a complaint contesting election results in the High Court. It’s also on Nov. 13th that the results are made official by the Election Office.


07 November 2018


By Olivia
THE TURKS and Caicos Islands and 11 other overseas countries and territories (OCTs) will benefit from €40 million earmarked for sustainable energy and marine biodiversity projects.

The news came when leaders of several OCTs met at a resilience summit held in St Maarten on October 25.

The high-level summit marked the beginning of a Caribbean regional programme which deals with three areas - resilience, marine biodiversity and sustainable energy.

During the event, the participating countries officially signed the EU programme, which made the cash available from the European Development Fund (EDF).

The funds will now be accessible for individual governments to use over the next five years to invest in sustainable energy and for the protection of marine life.

The programme, which relates to the development agenda of the European Union, concentrates on empowerment of communities.

It will benefit the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten.

Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson joined her overseas counterparts at the meeting and discussed the way forward under the theme, ‘Unite, prepare, adapt’.

After catastrophic climate events last year in the Caribbean, the need for more innovative leadership was stressed at the conference.

Premier Robinson shared the TCI’s initiatives thus far in its creation of a climate change policy, training for policy makers in embedding disaster risk reduction and climate change action and the move towards protecting the environment including the ban on single use plastic bags and the move towards further bans on plastic and Styrofoam. 

She noted that the region must lead in being climate smart through the education of its people and in taking forward initiatives that will preserve the environment.

The premier underscored that although many countries desire to rebuild more resiliently and climate smart, it is costly.

"Building back better costs money, we must address this,” she said.

"We must seek to diversify our small economies as far as we are able and we must be responsive to the regional crisis last year and proactive for the years to come.”

03 November 2018


A tale of 2 islands: Brexit blues hit Caribbean cousins

Amandine Ascensio,
Agence France-Presse

THE VALLEY, United Kingdom -- The tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla lives in harmony with neighboring Saint Martin but the borders could soon be going up in this sun-soaked paradise due to Brexit.

Five miles (eight kilometers) of turquoise sea separate the British overseas territory of Anguilla from Saint Martin, a larger island split between two European Union states: France in the northern half and the Dutch-run south.

Chief Minister Victor Banks said Anguillians consider Saint Martin as "downtown Anguilla".

"People go there to go to shopping, to make business, or get, for example, medical services," he told AFP.

Britain is more than 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers) away from the pristine white beaches fringing Anguilla, an island 16 miles (26 km) long by 3 miles (5 km) wide, with a 15,000-strong population.

After a 25-minute ferry ride, visitors from Saint Martin stroll straight through the entry checks at what is left of the port at Blowing Point. Anguilla and its neighbor were ravaged by Hurricane Irma in September last year.

"People here in this part of the world have very, very, very close family ties," said Tim Foy, the British civil servant who is the head of state Queen Elizabeth II's representative in the territory.

The 2017 records were partially lost in Hurricane Irma but he said there were around 300,000 movements of people between Anguilla and Saint Martin in 2016.

Free movement of goods and people between the 3 administrations is a historical mainstay, said Sherman Williams, finance manager of the Anguilla Air and Sea Ports Authority, which runs Anguilla's three harbours and its small airstrip.

The traditional arrangement was legally reinforced by EU rules but is now in question due to Britain's decision to leave the bloc. Internally self-governing Anguilla did not take part in the 2016 vote.

Anguilla's capital and largest town, The Valley, is strung out around 3 main roads, punctuated with occasional administrative buildings, small grocery stores and some under-occupied modern buildings with herds of goats occasionally roaming by.


There are few immediate concerns about the island's economic health.

EU development aid accounts for only 1 to 2 percent of Anguilla's budget at $6-7 million and the island's government is planning on negotiating post-Brexit replacement money with London.

Around 80 percent of Anguilla's economy is based on services, notably offshore finance and tourism, which rely on smooth cross-border flows.

Most longer-haul tourists come via the bigger airport on Saint Martin, famous for its runway right by the beach.

"We don't know exactly what Brexit means for Anguilla," said Shellya Rogers, the Anguilla Tourist Board's corporate affairs manager.

While 80 percent of the island's tourists come from the United States, European visitors "may have a few more restrictions on travelling", including possibly visas, she said.

There are also concerns in Britain's other Caribbean overseas territories: the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Banks said they were working together but none faced the same challenges as Anguilla, relying so closely as it does on its neighbor split between EU states.

Daniel Gibbs, the president of the territorial council of French Saint-Martin, is Banks's cousin and shares his point of view.

He hopes Brexit will not impose dramatic changes on the 2 islands.

"We are determined to put in place a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the exchanges that have always characterised our relationship," said Gibbs.

Williams summed up how citizens in the 3 jurisdictions see themselves as one and the same.

"Brexit may be justified in Europe; however, in the Caribbean it almost amounts to the separation of families," he said.

"Families, friends, culture, ethnicity, heritage -- all are the same," said the financial manager of the air and port authority.

"Brexit's impact goes beyond a mere trade of goods and services and enters into the kinship of a Caribbean people."

The question hangs in the air in cafes between games of dominoes: can Caribbean people continue to live their lives under decisions taken in mother countries in Europe?

30 October 2018


Cook Islands receives accreditation 
Green Climate Fund

The Cook Islands can now access climate related finance of up to about $76.3 million (US$50million) per project directly from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The country has become the first nation in the Pacific to be accredited to the fund which was formed to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.

Over the weekend, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) was approved as an accredited entity to the fund at the GCF board meeting in Manama, Bahrain.

This means that MFEM can now source direct funding of up to $76.3m from the GCF per project – avoiding the need to go through other accredited entities as has been done in the past – to support projects and programmes addressing climate change in the Cook Islands.

In a statement, Mark Brown, the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, expressed his gratitude to the hardworking team based in the country for this milestone achievement.

MFEM has been working on accreditation to the GCF since June, 2016, under the lead of accreditation consultant, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, the statement added.

The lengthy process involved the need to strengthen internal processes, requiring MFEM to establish an Environmental and Social Safeguards, a Gender Policy and a Grants Awards System within its national financial systems, in order to meet fiduciary standards of the GCF’s accreditation criteria. The Climate Change Cook Islands division (CCCI) of the Office of the Prime Minister, as the country’s focal point to the GCF, assisted the accreditation process in terms of providing guidance. However, it has ultimately been MFEM’s responsibility to ensure that all the requirements of the GCF were met throughout the process.

“I am especially proud of the fact that our application process was done entirely in-house by our small, but very talented team of Cook Islands professionals. They demonstrated that world class capability exists in our small but highly professional organizations,” Brown said.

MFEM are grateful for the readiness support funding received from the GCF to fund GCF staff and the accreditation consultant within the Development Coordination Division of MFEM dedicated to working on its accreditation application.

“The road to accreditation has involved two years of tireless work, but this development is a significant milestone for the Cook Islands,” the statement said.

“MFEM are proud of this milestone as the Cook Islands is the first amongst the Pacific island countries to receive accreditation to the fund as a national direct access entity.”

According to Brown this accreditation will, “assist our country in meeting our carbon emissions reductions and also assist in financing adaptation initiatives to strengthen our country against the impacts of climate change”.

“What we now need is for the wealthy countries that are responsible for carbon emissions to contribute to the fund so that countries like us that are being hurt by their actions can protect ourselves,” he added.

The Cook Islands was also the first country in the region and the first Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to receive financial resources from the fund in 2016.

18 October 2018


Statement By Acting Premier Dr. The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering On The Passing Of Honourable Delores Christopher

16 October 2018 
Good evening.
Today, we received the sad news of the untimely passing of our colleague, the Honourable Delores Christopher. Honourable Christopher was, as those who knew her, an elected official, an entrepreneur but most importantly – she was a true BVI patriot.
She was a true definition of a person who exuded national pride, the true essence of an indigenous Virgin Islander.
Honourable Christopher first became a Public Officer in 1968 when she joined the then Chief Minister’s Office and her love for country over self, led her to remain a Public Officer throughout her lifetime.
In 2003, she was elected as the Representative for the Fifth Electoral District and served as a Government Backbencher. In 2011, she was appointed Deputy Speaker in the House of Assembly.
One of the things we would always remember about Honourable Christopher was that she swelled with so much pride in being a BVIslander. She was a woman of many passionate words of these Virgin Islands. She was very politically-minded and advocated for the development of the people of this Territory.
Many will remember Honourable Christopher as one of the founders of the popular Christmas on Main Street annual event. She believed that it is important for us to all know and cherish our legacy. She was also very instrumental in the development and success of the Festival of Arts event held in 2013.
The Honourable Christopher strongly believed that the many vibrant pieces from the annual Emancipation Celebration could be preserved as an added attraction to our tourism product. In fact, she advocated for the construction of a national museum to house artifacts depicting our local history.
The friendship shared between Honourable Christopher and myself go a long way back. We both hail from Long Look. She was a personal friend of my family and I admired her fervor in which she defended this Territory and protected our rights as BVIslanders.
She touched many lives and her passing is a great loss to the Territory. Her contributions to the cultural development and historical preservation of the Territory are invaluable.
Honourable Christopher will long be remembered as a daughter of the soil. We will miss her as a colleague and we will miss her passionate contributions in the House of Assembly.
On behalf of the Government, the people of the Virgin Islands, my wife Alice, and our children, I extend deepest condolences to her husband Robert and the children, Troy, Art and Najan and of course the grandchildren.
May God grant us all comfort during this difficult time.