haiti-hurricane
Hurricane Matthew victims in Haiti were in a struggle as they waited the start of a delivery of food from the UN’s World Food Programme in the commune of Maniche, in Les Cayes, in the south west of Haiti, on October 17, 2016. Parts of Haiti still faced a humanitarian crisis that requires a ‘massive response’ from the international community, the United Nations chief said in October, with at least 1.4 million people needing emergency aid following a battering by Hurricane Matthew. (Photo credit: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Compiled By NAN News Editors

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Dec. 28, 2016: It’s almost December 31st, a time when one looks back at the year before – and measures the positives and negatives of the 365 days past. In the Caribbean and the US Caribbean Diaspora, the year 2016 can be summed up as one of mixed fortunes indeed. It was a year that saw many countries again battling with soaring crime rates, the threat of the mosquito borne Zika virus and dealing with deaths brought about by Hurricane Matthew and scandal from the Panama Papers. It was also the year when the Caribbean was in the news globally for the visit of Prince Harry, the visit of President Obama to Cuba; the stellar performance of many of its athletes at the Rio Summer Olympics and Para-Olympics, elections in at least four Caribbean nations, the honoring of at least two of its daughters globally, the 50th independence celebration in two others and the election of Donald Trump which could mean a major threat to the Caribbean region and immigrants from the region in the US.  Here is the NAN editors’ choice of month-by-month low-points and highlights from across the Caribbean and its US Diaspora from 2016:

January 2016

zika-DR-spraying
Dominican Air Force personnel fumigate various locations in Santo Domingo against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, vector of the Zika virus. (Photo credit: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

The region started the year still fighting the zika virus as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned pregnant women against travel to several islands including the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands because of the risk of exposure to the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects. Puerto Rico also reported its first case of zika in January.

 

 

 

 

February 2016

hamilton-the-musical-and-alexander-hamilton
Music director Alex Lacamoire, actor, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and cast of ‘Hamilton’ celebrate on stage during ‘Hamilton’ GRAMMY performance for The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Richard Rodgers Theater on February 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Jamaicans went to the polls in February, 2016. Following general elections on February 25th in Jamaica, Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness took the reins of the country even as crime continued to be an issue in the country.

In the US, the cast of ‘Hamilton,’ a play to celebrating the life of Caribbean-born immigrant turned US Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, won a Grammy on February 15, 2016.

 

 

 

 

March 2016

obama-and-raul-in-cuba
President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro share a laugh as they attend an exhibition game between the Cuban national baseball team and Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Estado Latinoamericano March 22, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. This is the first time a sitting president has visited Cuba in 88 years. (Chip Somodevilla image)

U.S. President Obama made a historic trip to Cuba in March marking the first time a sitting US president had visited the Communist ruled island since President Calvin Coolidge did in 1928. Cuban President Raul Castro raised US President Barack Obama’s hand during a joint press conference at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2016

In April, the murder rate in the twin island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago reached a whopping 140 in 103 days. This brought along a UK government travel advice on April 6, 2016, which warned nationals traveling there to “always drive with windows closed and doors locked.”

Meanwhile, in Barbados, Bitt, a fintech company attracted a major investment from Overstock.

May 2016

guyana-at-50
Pomp and ceremony: Flag raisings and fireworks marked the celebration of Guyana’s 50th independence anniversary on May 26, 2016.

In May, five Caribbean nations, including four in the French Caribbean, reported an increase in suspected cases of Zika while the Caribbean and cricket world mourned the passing of Winston Anthony Lloyd Cozier, known to the cricketing world as simply Tony Cozier. He was 75.

Also in May, Guyana celebrated its 50th independence anniversary from Britain even as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a huge database of Panama Papers documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore accounts that showed that several power players in Africa and Latin America have or are linked to several offshore companies registered in the Caribbean.

June 2016

Chile’s Jean Beausejour tackles the Argentine great, Lionel Messi, (R) during the Copa America Centenario final in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States, on June 26, 2016. (Photo credit: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

In June, President Obama issued a proclamation to mark the 10th National Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the US even as the US House passed the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016, H.R. 4939, a bill to increase engagement with the governments of the Caribbean region and the Caribbean Diaspora community in the United States.

And Caribbean born mega stars Rihanna and Nicki Minaj were among the winners at the BET Awards on June 26, 2016 even though both were no shows at the awards even as Chile’s hard fought victory for a second straight year in a row at the Copa America 2016 finals was made possible by a player who undoubtedly has Haitian blood flowing through his veins – Jean André Emanuel Beausejour.

July 2016

patrick-manning-eulogy
Eulogy to PM Patrick Manning was delivered by Brian Manning at Trinity Cathedral in Trinidad. (Facebook image)

On July 2nd, many woke up to the sad news that former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning had passed away after a battle with cancer. Manning was laid to rest on July, 9 2016 after a funeral at the Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain. Manning died after a battle with cancer.

The Canadian government also issued warnings to its nationals to “exercise a high degree of caution” when travelling to 8 Caribbean nations.

As the US prepared for its election, Caribbean nationals were not among the speakers at the Democratic National Convention, which gaveled in, in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia in July but a Trinidad-born migrant was actively working in press operations for the Convention. D’shawna C. Bernard was special assistant for press operations at the Democratic National Convention Committee.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department released its latest Fiscal Transparency Report and three Caribbean nations were found to have failed to meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency even as the Brooklyn Borough President’s office and the NYPD joined forces to announce they were working to make the NY J’Ouvert Caribbean festival safer.

August 2016

man-of-the-people-usain-bolt
Man of the people – Usain Bolt – celebrates with fans after winning the Men’s 200-m Final on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

August was all about the Games of the 31st Olympiad as Caribbean athletes, especially those from Jamaica and Usain Bolt in particular, gave Caribbean nationals something to be proud about.  The Caribbean ended with a total 28 medals at the Olympics as Bolt cemented his legacy as the world’s fastest man to claim his ‘Triple Triple.’ It was also the month when Elaine Thompson shot to greatness as the world’s fastest woman with gold medal wins in the women’s 100 and 200-m finals; Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas stunned the world and created a social media firestorm as she dived over the finish line to win the gold medal in the Women’s 400m Final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Jamaica’s Omar McLeod created history in Rio to become the first Jamaican to the Men’s 110-m Hurdles Final and Puerto Rico-born Monica Puig, 22, won the very first Olympic gold medal for her island to become the first Latin American to win gold for women’s singles tennis.

It was also the month Jamaican reggae singer Sizzla Kalonji, who lost his US visa amidst claims that he sang anti-gay songs, had his US visa reinstated and returned to the U.S. for long overdue performances after an eight year absence.

September 2016

trinidad-gold-medal-winner
Gold medalist Akeem Stewart of Trinidad and Tobago was the lone gold medalist for the English-speaking Caribbean at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)

Four earthquakes rattled two Caribbean countries twice in September according to The Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies.

A petition to urge President Obama to pardon the Jamaican-born 20th-century black nationalist and proponent of the Pan-Africanism movement, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH, failed yet again.

Haitian refugees began fleeing to Tijuana, Mexico. The refugees were seeking asylum at the border crossing into the United States.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Akeem Stewart, 24, broke his own javelin world record twice to clinch gold in the F43 javelin event at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Hundreds, including Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, packed a Brooklyn, NY church Saturday morning, September 24, 2016, to pay their final respects to former Caribbean Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sir Dr. Lamuel Stanislaus.

The Dutch Caribbean country of Curaçao has become one of only a handful from the region that has entered into an Open Skies Agreement with the U.S. even as the US CDC agency added St. Kitts to its Zika travel alert. The other nations who ended up on the CDC list this year were:

Guadeloupe

Bonaire

Curacao

French Guiana

Trinidad & Tobago

Saint Lucia

Cuba

Turks & Caicos

Belize

Saint Martin

Sint Maarten

Puerto Rico

Martinique

Aruba

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Jamaica

Suriname

Haiti

Guyana

U.S. Virgin Islands

Saba

Antigua & Barbuda

St. Barts

Dominica

Anguilla

St. Eustacius

Grenada

The Cayman Islands.

The US’ National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened officially on September 24, 2016 in a ceremony led by the US’ first black President, Barack Obama, also included correspondence and paintings of a Caribbean hero – Haitian slave revolt leader Toussaint L’Ouverture – among the 37,000 museum pieces currently on display in the building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Guyanese-roots Actress Kylie Bunbury, began heating things up in ‘Pitch’ as a talented female baseball pitcher on the Fox TV show.

And the West Indian American Day Carnival continued to be confused with the Brooklyn J’Ouvert festival in New York by the Associated Press and to be wrongly blamed for crime.

October 2016

haiti-matthew-damages
Haitians try to cross the over flowing Rouyonne river in the commune of Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince, October 5, 2016. (Photo credit: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

The eye of Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the western part of the Caribbean nation of Haiti – after threatening Jamaica for days – at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Oct. 4, 2016 dumping several inches of rain and creating serious flooding including in Les Cayes.

The hurricane was later blamed for killing over 800, injuring many more and leveling  huge swaths of the country’s south.

Hurricane Matthew victims in Haiti were in a struggle as they waited the start of a delivery of food from the UN’s World Food Programme in the commune of Maniche, in Les Cayes, in the south west of Haiti, on October 17, 2016. Parts of Haiti still faced a humanitarian crisis that requires a ‘massive response’ from the international community, the United Nations chief said in October, with at least 1.4 million people needing emergency aid following a battering by Hurricane Matthew.

haiti-migration
Haitian migrants seeking asylum in the United States, listen to announcements as they wait for their opportunity to get a spot at the Padre Chava soup kitchen and shelter in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, in Baja California, on October 6, 2016. The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico (CNDH) on Saturday called on the government to support the saturated shelters and humanitarian centres for migrants in the border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, where an increase in the arrival of Haitians and Africans hoping to be allowed to continue north to the United States has been registered. / AFP / Guillermo Arias (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Haitian Diaspora in the US begun mobilizing to assist their hurricane ravaged island even as U.N. secretary-general’s deputy special representative for Haiti Mourad Wahba called damages from Hurricane Matthew the largest humanitarian event witnessed since the 2010 earthquake.

Hurricane Matthew was also blamed for four deaths in the Dominican Republic and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2016

women-cry-for-fidel
A woman weeps after watching a military convoy transport the remains of former Cuban President Fidel Castro from Revolution Plaza to the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia where he will be buried December 4, 2016 in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Sunday marked the last of a nine-day mourning period after Castro died November 25 at the age of 90. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security quietly resumed deportations to Haiti, removing more than 200 immigrants in early November.

Belizeans went to the polls on November 4th and the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) was returned to power over the main opposition People’s United Party (PUP).

Four days later, Caribbean and Latin roots celebrities like many Hillary Clinton supporters across the world took to social media to express their stunned disbelief at the results of the Nov. 8, 2016 election that saw the election of Donald Trump.

Presidential elections were also finally held in Haiti on November 20, 2016, after it was postponed several times. After almost two weeks of counting, it was announced that Jovenel Moise was the winner of the election. But the country’s electoral court in December ordered a review of the election. The decision followed lengthy arguments by lawyers for the opposition candidates and more than five hours of deliberation by the judges.

Prince Harry kicked off a visit to the Caribbean on November 20, 2016 to mark the 35th Anniversary of Independence in Antigua and Barbuda and the 50th Anniversary of Independence in Barbados and Guyana.  The 32-year-old prince received a red carpet welcome in Antigua on Sunday, November 20, when he was serenaded by a military band at V.C. Bird International Airport following a first-class British Airways flight from London. His visit also took him to St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada and saw the emergence of the #NotMyPrince hashtag with organizers calling for reparations for slavery from Britain for the former British colonies.

cicely-tyson-presneted-2016-Presidential-medla-of-freedom
U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tony Award winning actress Cicely Tyson during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Also in November, daughter of Nevisian immigrants, actress Cicely Tyson, was presented a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama at a star-studded event in the East Room of the White House.

On November 25th, Cuban President Raul Castro announced that his brother,  Fidel Castro, the former Cuban President and one of the world’s longest-serving rulers, had passed away at 90. Castro defied 11 US administrations and hundreds of assassination attempts.

And on November 30, 2016, Barbados celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence with Prince Harry and Rihanna at a mega concert at Kensington Oval even as the country battled flooding from heavy rains.

December 2016

prince-harry-rihanna-aidsday
Rihanna and Prince Harry, r., took AIDS tests in Barbados on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2016 to show how easy it is to get tested. (Twitter image)

 

Prince Harry and pop singer Rihanna kicked off December by doing public HIV tests to promote more widespread testing in Barbados on World Aids Day.

Prince Harry (R) watches as Singer Rihanna (L) gets her blood sample taken for an live HIV test, in order to promote more widespread testing for the public at the ‘Man Aware’ event held by the Barbados National HIV/AIDS Commission on the eleventh day of an official visit on December 1, 2016 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

 

prince-harry-guyana
The Prince then wrapped up his Caribbean visit to Guyana, where he was presented with a headdress by dancers in Surama Village in the Guyana Hinterland on day 13 of an official visit. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Prince then wrapped up his Caribbean visit to Guyana, where he  was presented with a headdress by dancers in Surama Village in the Guyana Hinterland on day 13 of an official visit.

Turks & Caicos saw the election of its first female premier. Sharlene Cartwright Robinson of the People`s Democratic Movement won the island’s December 15, 2016 election to oust Dr. Rufus Ewing of the Progressive National Party (PNP) in a 10-5 upset.

A singer with American Samoan roots has stunned reggae regulars and followers by surprisingly earning a 2017 Grammy nomination in the reggae category for 2016. Also making the Grammy nomination this year is Devin the Dakta & J.L for Sly & Robbie Presents – Reggae for Her, Raging Fyah for Everlasting, multiple Grammy winner Ziggy Marley, Virginia band SOJA for Soja Live in Virginia and California band Rebelution for Falling Into Place.

Bajan star Rihanna earned 8 nominations this year while Sean Paul is also up for a Grammy for his collaboration with Sia on Cheap Thrills. The winners will be announced at the awards on Feb 12, 2017.

Researchers from both a Caribbean and US agency identified one disease as the second leading cause of death across the Caribbean – cancer.

miss-world-2016-Stephanie-DelValle
Miss Puerto Rico Stephanie Del Valle reacts after being crowned Miss World during the Miss World 2016 pageant at the MGM National Harbor December 18, 2016 in Oxon Hill, Maryland. (Photo credit: ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Caribbean region claimed another Miss World as Stephanie Del Valle of Puerto Rico was crowned Miss World 2016 at the 66th Miss World Sunday night at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland while Yaritza Miguelina Reyes Ramírez, 23, a black woman of the Dominican Republic, emerged as the second most beautiful woman in the world after she was named the runner-up in the 2016 Miss World contest.

Guyanese-born author who penned the autobiographical novel To Sir, With Love which was made into a 1967 British drama film of the same title, starring Bahamas-roots actor Sidney Poitier and Lulu, has passed away at 104-years-old.

With a simple stroke of his pen, U.S. President Barack Obama today, December 16, 2016, made the United States–Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 law.

crime-in-jamaica

And crime continued to be an issue across the Caribbean. In Antigua, a British man was shot in the head during an attempted robbery but luckily he survived but was in critical condition. And in Jamaica, the crime rate kept on rising. The Jamaica Gleaner reported that in St James, Jamaica alone, 232 murders were recorded between Jan 1 and Dec. 1, 2016, the most in the history of the parish. It also marked the second straight year that the murder count in St James has surpassed 200. The new head of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major General Rocky Meade, has said he plans to deploy a battalion of soldiers – normally between 500 and 600 – to the crime-plagued western section of the island to fight the scourge.

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