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Compiled By NAN Staff Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Jan. 11, 2017: Here are the stories making news across the Caribbean, Latin America and its US Diaspora for today, Jan. 11, 2017:


Seven Haitians trying to make it to the US illegally in a disabled sailing vessel were rescued off the coast of Haiti by the U.S. Coast Guard earlier this week. They were located about 14 miles west of Anse Rouge, Haiti, at the time. All of the boaters were safely transferred to Great Inagua, Bahamas.


While outrage continues to mount over allegations of sexual assault by a Jamaican pastor, the mother of the two teenage girls who were placed in state care sexual assault by Moravian pastor, Rupert Clarke, could soon be facing charges herself.

The woman, who reportedly has 11 children living in very poor circumstances, is likely to face charges of child neglect, among other child abuse-related offences. Last week, the 15-year-old who was allegedly found in a compromising position with Pastor Clarke, as well as her 13-year-old sister, were taken from the mother’s custody by the Child Development Agency (CDA) and placed in state care.

This occurred amid reports that the accused clergyman was sexually involved with more than one of the woman’s children. Clarke, 64, of the Nazareth Moravian Church in Manchester, has been charged with having sex with the 15-year-old child. He is under a wider probe for at least two other allegations of sexual offences involving other teenagers. He appeared in court last Wednesday, and was offered bail in the sum of $800,000 with surety, and is to return to court in February.

The allegations against him were that on December 28, police officers on patrol in a rural district in St Elizabeth noticed a parked car. Upon investigating, they found the pastor in what has been described as a compromising position with the teen girl inside the vehicle. Pastor Clarke was arrested and charged with statutory rape of the minor.


As the countdown begins to the inauguration of Donald Trump, the Antigua and Barbuda government says it is looking to the new administration to end its long standing battle over online gaming. Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, delivering the traditional Throne speech at the start of a new session of Parliament on Monday, said that the Gaston Browne administration is also seeking to enact legislation to help it deal with the matter. In 2005, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that Washington had violated international trade agreements by prohibiting operation of offshore Internet gambling sites. Antigua claimed that it lost US$3.4 billion a year due to the US action, but the WTO awarded the island US$21 million.


The Obama administration signed a joint pact with Cuba’s Castro regime on how the two countries will respond to oil spills — one of six such accords President Barack Obama hopes to sign before leaving office. Obama plans on entering into five more agreements to make it harder for Trump to undo his legacy. U.S. Charge d’Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis said the accord with Cuba, signed Monday, was only the first in a series of deals to “protect the shared marine environment” between the two countries, according to Reuters. Donald Trump has promised to rewind Obama’s normalizing relations with Cuba, winning him the support of Cubans living in Florida who opposed the oppressive Castro regime.


Prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has reiterated his disdain for the economic citizenship programmes being operated by some member states of the OECS. Gonsalves, according to the West Indies News Network, insisted that his country’s citizenship is not for sale.
The CIP programs of St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica were criticized in a recent edition of CBS’ 60 Minutes feature.


Caribbean Information and Credit Rating Services Limited (CariCRIS) has lowered by one notch its ratings on the debt issue of US$300 million of the government of Barbados to CariBBB and CariBBB+ on its foreign and local currency rating, from CariBBB+ and CariA- respectively. It said the action was taken based on publicly available information, as despite CariCRIS’ requests the government has not been able to accommodate it for its regular onsite annual surveillance meetings. A negative outlook has also been assigned to the ratings.


Grenada has appointed a Gaming Commissioner to regulate the sector, Economic and Planning Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph said Tuesday. Speaking at the weekly Cabinet news conference, Joseph said “the sector is right now unregulated and we will be bringing it under control”. He said the Keith Mitchell government is aware of slots machines located all over the island including small shops with children under the age of 18 being allowed to play without restriction.


Mexico’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Tuesday there is “no way” his country will pay for a wall that Donald Trump wants to build along the border between the two countries. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto named Videgaray last week as foreign minister, as Mexico braces for a complex relationship with its neighbor and main trade partner under Trump. “There’s no way that could happen,” Videgaray said on Mexican television a few days after his appointment. “There are no circumstances…not even the best possible trade deal, investments, support which would justify taking a step that would violate the dignity of Mexicans to such an extent.”


A suspension bridge in Colombia has collapsed, killing at least 11 people and injuring several others near the city of Villavicencio, south-east of the capital, Bogota. Eyewitnesses said one of the ropes had snapped as more than two dozen people were crossing the bridge. Some managed to hold on, but many others, including young children, fell into the ravine below.


Venezuela’s National Assembly, which is controlled by opposition parties, has declared that President Nicolas Maduro has “abandoned his post.” The National Assembly Speaker argued that by allowing the economic crisis to spiral out of control, President Maduro had failed to fulfill his duties. The resolution is the latest in a series of attempts by the opposition to oust Maduro from office. However, the Supreme Court is expected to declare the move unconstitutional.

Panamanians burned a life-size effigy, made up to look like the American Ambassador John Feeley, in Panama City on Martyrs’ Day, during which riots protesting the Canal Zone occurred. Observers believe that the reaction is a knee-jerk reaction to Panama’s many troubles, which include the utter failure of the current government, elected on a reform platform, to implement an effective program to combat the rampant corruption the country suffers from.


A statue of Argentine football star Lionel Messi has been vandalized in Buenos Aires. The bronze statue, unveiled last June, was broken in half and the torso, arms and head removed. The motive for the damage was not clear but city officials say repairs to the statue are already under way. It was unveiled just as the striker announced he was retiring from the national team – a decision he later reversed.


Barbados’ award-winning singer, turned entrepreneur and actress, Rihanna, has landed nine nods in the fourth annual iHeart Radio Music Awards to be held at the Forum in Los Angeles on March 5. The “Work” singer has been nominated for Female Artist of the Year; R&B Song of the Year (“Needed Me”), and R&B Artist of the Year. She also earned nods for collaborations with Drake, as well as Calvin Harris on the Taylor Swift-penned “This Is What You Came For.”


The World Cup will be expanded to host 48 teams, up from 32, Fifa has decided.  An initial stage of 16 groups of three teams will precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32 when the change is made for the 2026 tournament. The sport’s world governing body voted unanimously in favour of the change at a meeting in Zurich on Tuesday. The number of tournament matches will rise to 80, from 64, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games. The tournament will be completed within 32 days – a measure to appease powerful European clubs, who objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule.


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