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Fritz Bélizaire Named Interim Prime Minister of Haiti by Transitional Council

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Fritz Bélizaire

Fritz Bélizaire has been designated as Haiti’s new interim Prime Minister by the nation’s transitional council, a pivotal move aimed at steering the country toward fresh elections and restoring democratic governance. The announcement came on Tuesday, positioning Mr. Bélizaire as the successor to Michel Patrick Boisvert, who temporarily filled the role during former Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s international engagements.

Complications arose when Mr. Henry found himself unable to return to Haiti, leading to his resignation and the installation of Mr. Boisvert as the acting head of government. This situation prompted the formation of a transitional council tasked with charting a course forward for the nation.

The decision to appoint Mr. Bélizaire was not unanimous among the council members, with four endorsing him and three expressing reservations due to their unfamiliarity with his previous roles. Mr. Bélizaire served as the Minister of Sports under President René Préval from 2006 to 2011, a tenure that, according to Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics analyst at the University of Virginia, left him relatively unknown in political circles. Dr. Fatton suggested that Mr. Bélizaire’s low profile might actually facilitate broader acceptance as Prime Minister, offering a potential advantage in his new role.

Edgard Leblanc Fils, the president of the transitional council, affirmed the selection, emphasizing that Mr. Bélizaire represents a unifying figure capable of transcending political divides and fostering consensus. “This is a very good choice for Prime Minister,” Mr. Fils remarked. He highlighted the council’s commitment to overcoming internal conflicts and advancing toward stability and electoral processes.

The transitional council aims to stabilize the nation sufficiently to conduct elections by February 2026, at which point their mandate concludes.

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Caribbean

Multiple Passengers Vanish During Cruise Ship Visits to BVI, Sparking Immigration Fears

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The British Virgin Islands government is actively seeking information on the whereabouts of a Colombian woman who vanished after disembarking from a cruise ship, escalating concerns over potential illegal immigration. Monica Marcela Pineda, a passenger on the Norwegian Sky, failed to reboard the ship following its stop in the territory last Sunday, according to a government bulletin. Authorities confirmed that Pineda neither left the territory by other legal routes nor returned to the departing cruise ship.

This incident is not isolated. Recent weeks have seen similar disappearances involving passengers from the same vessel. On April 19, another port call by the Norwegian Sky saw two more passengers, Pascal Bosman from the Netherlands and Martire Cabrera, a Dominican Republic national with a St. Kitts & Nevis passport, also fail to return to the ship in Tortola without any record of them leaving the BVI by alternative means.

Further, on March 10, three Colombians—Jean Carlo Ospina Cano, Pamela Mesa Escobar, and Yesica Yogana Marin Ramirez—similarly disappeared after the Norwegian Sky docked in March. None of these individuals have been seen since disembarking.

The recurring disappearances of these five individuals during various visits by the Norwegian Sky in recent months have heightened concerns about illegal immigration in the British Virgin Islands. Authorities are urging the public to provide any information that could help address these incidents and ensure the integrity of the territory’s borders.

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Caribbean

BVI Electricity Corporation Introduces Solar Program to Cut Energy Costs by Half

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The BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) has initiated a groundbreaking solar initiative, the Solar Technology Energy Program (STEP), announced by Communication and Works Minister Kye Rymer. This new program is poised to significantly reduce electricity costs, potentially saving consumers up to 50%.

For years, the British Virgin Islands have faced steep energy costs, influenced by factors like fuel and shipping expenses, similar to challenges in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Our goal has been to find and implement strategies that reduce energy costs for the Virgin Islanders,” stated Minister Rymer during the unveiling of the STEP initiative.

Under this program, BVIEC will not only purchase but also install solar power generation systems on residential properties at no cost to the homeowners. These systems will connect to the grid, enabling residents to feed surplus electricity back to BVIEC and receive credits in return.

To assess public interest in STEP, BVIEC has launched an online survey available exclusively to residential homeowners. This initiative comes after last year’s energy consumption surge, which led BVIEC to implement power rationing. By enhancing residential solar capacity, the STEP program aims to prevent future demand-driven power shortages and stabilize the region’s energy supply.

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OECS Nations Reform Citizenship by Investment Programs Amid EU Scrutiny

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Responding to significant pressure from the European Union, four nations within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)—Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Kitts & Nevis—have taken a decisive step to reform their Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIPs). This move aims to address EU concerns over security and maintain visa-free access to the Schengen area for their citizens. A landmark agreement signed on March 20 introduces a unified approach to enhancing the integrity and appeal of their CIPs.

During a press briefing in Dominica, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit highlighted the collaborative effort to confront EU critiques, emphasizing the critical role of visa-free European travel for Caribbean nationals. The EU’s apprehensions have grown over the potential misuse of CIPs by individuals seeking to bypass legal scrutiny, sparked by incidents of abuse highlighted in reports by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). These investigations uncovered cases where individuals involved in criminal activities exploited the programs to evade justice, underscoring the urgent need for reform.

A European Commission report shed further light on the situation, identifying a significant proportion of CIP applicants from countries traditionally requiring visas for EU entry. The possibility for identity alteration post-citizenship acquisition through these programs raised alarms about the security implications for EU member states. In response to these concerns, EU officials and representatives from the OECS convened to devise a strategy to mitigate the security risks associated with visa-free access provided through CIPs.

The reforms, set to be implemented by June 30, include a notable increase in the minimum investment for citizenship, setting it at $200,000—twice the amount previously required. This adjustment is part of a broader initiative that will also see the establishment of a regional authority to standardize CIP criteria, enhanced regulation of CBI agents, improved information sharing among member states, and the implementation of joint training and due diligence efforts. These measures are intended to fortify the programs against misuse while preserving the benefits of visa-free travel to Europe for citizens of the participating countries.

Saint Lucia, however, remains an outlier, having not joined the agreement. Consequently, it will be the sole OECS nation continuing to offer citizenship at the lower price point of $100,000 plus fees beyond the June 30 deadline. This collective move by four OECS members marks a significant shift towards addressing international concerns and ensuring the long-term viability of their citizenship by investment offerings.

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