BBC Caribbean News in Brief

Curacao votes to accept Dutch conditions for ‘country status’

Voters in Curacao have chosen to accept the conditions under which the island will form a new constitutional relationship with Holland.

A referendum on Friday saw the ‘yes’ vote winning with 52 per cent of the votes cast against 48 for those against.

The turnout was 67 per cent of the 119 thousand people eligible to vote.

Curacao had negotiated for a ‘country status’ within the Dutch Kingdom, giving it direct relations with Holland as part of the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles. However, among the key conditions demanded by the Dutch government were; having a oversight over the island’s judicial and financial affairs in return for cancelling Curacao’s debt (to Holland) of around a billion dollars.

The ‘no’ campaign opposed that deal.

The victory for the ‘yes’ vote now means that the process of dismantling the Dutch Caribbean federation can continue towards the target date of 2010. Curacao and St Maarten will each be accorded ‘country status’ but with Holland having final say on financial management and judicial issues.

The other islands – Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius – have agreed to be integrated into provinces in Holland. The other Dutch Caribbean island, Aruba, opted for ‘country status’ in 1986 when it broke away from the Netherlands Antilles group.
Haiti to participate in CSM

Haiti has announced plans for participation in the Caricom Single Market, with respect to goods.

This was one of the announcements made at a meeting of Caricom’s Council for Trade and Development (COTED) in Guyana on Friday. Other issues discussed included piracy and a common fisheries policy.

The COTED talks came ahead of a meeting of Caricom heads of government in Trinidad to discuss the global financial crisis.

Jamaica bauxite company shuts

Jamaica’s bauxite industry suffered another blow on Friday when mining and refinery operations at one company, ALPART, was suspended for at least a year.

The move follows similar action by two other plants, due to reduced demand for alumina, as a result of the global financial crisis.

In March ALPART said the closure was necessary in light of the drastic reduction in the price of alumina on the world market.

Nine hundred jobs will be lost in what the company insists is a temporary measure.

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