BBC Caribbean News in Brief

The court-appointed receiver in charge of the operations and assets of the Stanford Financial Group has asked a federal judge to release some client brokerage accounts that contain $250,000 or less. The receiver, Ralph Janvey, filed the motion in US District Court in Dallas late on Wednesday.
He asked that the order take effect March 9, according to a statement on his website.

The US Securities and Exchange Commis-sion has accused Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, two top aides and three of his companies of a long-running $8 billion securities fraud. It is claimed they used high-yield certificates of deposit issued by a Stanford bank in Antigua.

Unsafe tours to close

The St Lucia government says it will close tourist attractions on the island that fail to provide required security for visitors.

Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet made the disclosure to BBC Caribbean following an armed attack on Tuesday on a group of visitors at one of the island’s well-known waterfalls.

It is reported that four men armed with guns and machetes forced the visitors to hand over their valuables before escaping.

It’s the third such recent incident in the same area and Mr. Chastenet says the government is going to take action.

Haiti still ‘winnable’?

An international conflict monitoring group says deepening poverty and ineffective governance have left Haiti at risk for renewed violence and political instability.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group points to poor cooperation between President Rene Preval, new Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis and parliament.

On the other hand a top United Nations official is quoted as saying that the situation in Haiti is still `winnable’.

Senior vice president of the International Crisis Group Mark Schneider says Haiti continues to face enormous structural problems.

He told BBC Caribbean that the political opposition is more of an obstacle than being a viable alternative to the government.

French overseas protests spread

Police have fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing youths on the French island of Reunion as protests over the cost of living spread from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean.

Reports say hooded youths set up a roadblock near Reunion’s capital, Saint-Denis, and a separate demonstration in the city forced a supermarket to close when protestors tried to burst in.

It said several thousand people marched in Saint-Denis and the town of Saint-Pierre to voice complaints similar to those of their fellow French citizens in Guadeloupe and Martinique.

They say they face higher prices, higher unemployment and lower salaries than counterparts in France.

Guadeloupe strike ends with pay rises

A general strike in Guadeloupe appears to be over after 44 days as businesses began reopening on Thursday morning.

French authorities signed an agreement overnight with the coalition of unions that launched the industrial action on 20 January to press for higher wages on the island.

The wide-ranging deal provides for a $250 dollar monthly increase for low wage earners.

The strike paralysed the Guadeloupe economy, closed schools and businesses and forced thousands of visitors to cancel their vacations.
France despatched riot police when demonstrations erupted into violence.
A month-long strike in nearby Martinique also appears to be losing steam.

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