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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO—A project that will look into creating job and training opportunities for its youth and support the modernization of the juvenile justice system was kicked off on Thursday . The “Youth Development and Juvenile Justice in Suriname” project is a three-year initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Charged with implementation is the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the non-profit foundation of the Organization of American States (OAS) that implements integral socio-economic development programs for disadvantaged people and provides aid victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2012, the foundation helped more than 10 million people in 29 countries. . Headquartered in Washington DC, PADF has field offices in Haiti, Colombia and Suriname, and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The project is facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS).
A press release from the US embassy said that through the project, PADF will focus on providing youth access to employment and vocational education. Local organizations will be able to apply for grants for a wide variety of preventive and support services targeting youth. The project will also support the modernization of the country’s juvenile justice system so it continues to be more responsive to the rehabilitative needs of youth offenders, the release said. It will be executed in partnership with Government, local NGOs, the business community and other donor organizations to address the growing problems of at-risk youth.
PARAMARIBO–Government has scrapped the hydro energy project that was billed as the solution to the country’s long term energy woos. No official statement has been released yet, but reports are that President Desi Bouterse assured residents of her district that the TapaJai project that would affect their surroundings will not be carried out. The residents will soon be presented with the President’s formal notice of cancellation.
TapaJai refers to the area surrounding the Tapanahoni River and the Jai Creek in Sipaliwini in south eastern Suriname, from where water will be diverted to supplement the Prof. Dr. J.C. Van Blommestein Lake, a 1,560 square kilometer artificial lake that was created in the 1960′s.
Due to unexpected changes in weather patterns, the Afobaka Dam power plant in the dam at the lake has in recent years been unable to generate enough hydro-energy to power both the country’s growing community and the aluminum plant of Suralco -a subsidiary of Pittsburg headquartered multinational Alcoa.
PARAMARIBO–The second European Union – Suriname meeting in the framework of Article 8 of the ACP-EU Cotonou agreement took place on 22 April 2013 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A press release from the EU delegation in Suriname said this was a continuation of the first meeting that took place on 30th May 2012. The talks went well and will be continued it said.
The release said the dialogue focused on exchanging information to foster mutual understanding and to facilitate the establishment of agreed priorities and shared agendas, in particular by recognizing the existing links between the different aspects of the relations between the Parties and the various areas of cooperation’s as laid down in the Cotonou Agreement.
PARAMARIBO–As soon as next April, Haitian and Surinamese authorities will open consulates in each other’s countries. Haitian President Michel Martelly announced such on Saturday, as he met with jubilant countrymen in Suriname. Dozens had come out to meet with he visiting Haitian statesman at the Jarikaba banana plantation in District Nickerie.
Martelly received a warm welcome when he arrived in Suriname last Friday; the warm welcome even moved the former entertainer turned President to briefly show off his dancing skills at the cultural manifestation arranged in his honor in District Para. He publicly praised President Desi Bouterse for “being so close to his people” and said he was sure Bouterse would be able to solve their problems. “No President has a magic stick, but when he is as close to his people as I see President Bouterse is, he can identify with their problems and find solutions. Your president loves you, as much as I love the people of my country,” Martelly was reported as saying.
During meetings that followed at the Foreign Ministry in Paramaribo, Haitian officials and their Surinamese counterparts discussed agriculture, airlift and matters regarding the free movement of Haitians within Caricom countries. In a statement released after the meetings, Martelly said he spoke with Bouterse about the fact that Haitians cannot currently travel to Suriname without a visa, despite both countries being Caricom member states. According to Martelly, Bouterse said he would work to resolve this issue “in the shortest possible time.”
JAKARTA–Foreign Minister Winston Lackin, in Jakarta at the moment, on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with his Indonesian counterpart Minister Marty Natalegawa on Monday that commits the former Dutch colonies to boost people-to-people relations and increase trade. The ministers also agreed to develop technical cooperation such as providing training for teachers who taught the disabled, training in the gas and oil sector, education and sports.
“There is a strong basis for business. Between Suriname and Indonesia there is a very special relationship. We have long historical ties and a large part of the Suriname population [have Indonesian heritage],” Lackin said.
Many Javanese people migrated to Suriname to work on plantations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An estimated 15 percent of the current Suriname population can trace their heritage back to Java. “We have been blessed by enrichment from [Indonesia’s] culture, history and religion,” Lackin said.
AMSTERDAM–Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has expressed disapproval over Suriname’s choice of Errol Alibux for its ambassador to Turkey. “I regret that Suriname has again appointed one of the suspects in the December murder case as ambassador,” Timmermans said on Dutch TV on Wednesday.
Liakat Errol Alibux (65), a Netherlands trained sociologist who in previous Governments served in such positions as Premier, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister and Natural Resources Minister, was sworn in last week as Suriname’s first non-residing ambassador to Turkey. His appointment came just days after Vice President Robert Ameerali, on a trade mission to Turkey, signed cooperative agreements with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Premier of the EurAsian state. At Alibux’ swearing in ceremony, President Bouterse said he expected much from better cooperation with Turkey, and billed the new ambassador as one with “a new recipe in which the people are central.”
Foreign MInister Timmermans has issues with Alibux’ past. The former Minister was sentenced to a year for “forgery and defrauding the state”, after he was found guilty of counterfeiting a Ministers’ Council decision during his term as Finance Minister, which enabled the overpriced purchase by the state of a building.And according to the accounts by late unionist Fred Derby -who was allowed to live while 15 of Bouterse’s political opponents were killed on December 8th 1982- Alibux was present in Fort Zeelandia when these murders took place. Alibux is one of the 25 suspects in the now derailed “December Murders” trial; Bouterse is the main suspect.
PARAMARIBO–An announcement by Government that it will sell off its shares in two public banks has raised some question marks in the country. In a press release issued last week Thursday, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank announced that the shares the nation owns in the Credit, Trade and Industry “Hakrin” Bank and the Agriculture Bank will soon be available for purchase by private investors. The move blocks the impending acquisition of a majority stake in Hakrin Bank by Trinidad’s Republic Bank, which is apparently what Government intended. But some felt it came as too much of a surprise.
The press release spoke of an advanced plan for “democratizing” the banks. The Agriculture Bank will be fully privatized and the 25 percent shares Government holds in Hakrin Bank will be sold to private investors. Government said the sale would take place on the local commodities market “in a transparent process”. The press release said the move is part of Government’s intentions to have less involvement in the service and product sectors that are best served by private initiative. “Government intends to restructure its role,” the release said. It also said that the proceeds should help slash the public debts and free capital that can be used for investments in the social sector. Furthermore that privatization should encourage competition among banks in the country. In addition the transformation “translates to new opportunities for entrepreneurship, economic growth and financial development.” The privatization is expected to be completed before year-end.
NIEUW NICKERIE–Suriname has a new ambassador to Guyana. Nisha Kurban-Baboe was sworn in last week Tuesday by President Desi Bouterse to represent the country in its western neighbor. The swearing-in ceremony took place in Nieuw Nickerie, the capital of District Nickerie, which is at the border between the two countries.
It was the second time in a matter of months that Government took an important ceremony to the western district; last November 25th, Nickerie hosted the country’s elaborate 37th Independence Day celebrations. Kurban-Baboe hails from Nickerie. The new ambassador, who studied sociology and previously served at Suriname’s embassy in Brazil, said her intention is to strengthen relations between Suriname and Guyana. “The accent should be on what connects us and not what sets us apart,” she said.
AMSTERDAM–The Netherlands has released 70 pages of Foreign Affairs memorandums that shed some light on its involvement in Suriname in the early 1980s, but Suriname demand that all documents are released. “A step in the right direction,” Foreign Minister Winston Lackin called the declassification of the documents over the weekend. “But the Netherlands should make the entire package available to us, or at least allow us to look into it.”
The Netherlands released the set of 70 pages, including memorandums by then Foreign Minister Hand van den Broek, on January 1st. So far, the 70 pages that were released show that Foreign Affairs officials predicted the 1980 coup that put then army leader and current president Desi Bouterse in power.
Suriname had been granted independence on November 25 1975, but, the documents compiled in early 1982 say “the parliamentary democracy the country got, wasn’t working. The system was bent by ethnical lines, which lead to nepotism and corruption. Suriname was in a state of political and economic inertia, which prompted increasing unrest in the community. It is not surprising that the unrest of a group of officers eventually led to a “revolution” and a seizure of power on February 25 1980.”
The memorandums say that the Surinamese people at had tense expectations from the military rulers and were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt to bring order. “The military rulers actually searched for a regime that would better fit the Suriname situation, but by December 1982 they hadn’t been able to find that new system yet.”