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Death stalked the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in 2010 overshadowing many significant events such as the election of the first woman head of government in Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda and St Maarten, as well as the continued impact of the global economic and financial crisis on the region.

None of the 15-member Caricom grouping was spared, as the hand of death swept across the region — transforming the capital of the French-speaking nation of Haiti into a massive graveyard and bringing about a change in the leadership of government in Barbados.

Prominent academics, internationally acclaimed entertainers, well respected regional jurists and ordinary citizens contributed to the death toll over the past 12 months, in addition to the significant numbers murdered in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Guyana.

Even the extradition of an alleged Jamaican drug lord to the United States led to more than 70 deaths, while plane crashes in Suriname, The Bahamas and St Vincent and the Grenadines left many families without their loved ones.

But it was in Haiti that the stench of death lingered the most. On January 12, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook the impoverished country, killing an estimated 300,000 people and leaving more than a million others homeless. It literally destroyed all the buildings in the capital Port-au-Prince.

"This is actually the largest earthquake we have seen in the last 200 years in this region. There has not been an earthquake of magnitude six range since the 1970s," said US geophysicist Julie Dutton.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was centred about 14 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and was quickly followed by two strong aftershocks of initial magnitude of 5.9 and 5.5 forcing panic-stricken residents to file out into the streets desperately trying to dig people from rubble or searching for missing relatives.

The earthquake also decimated the government by killing scores of public servants who would have been required to play a major role in rebuilding the country that the international donors said would need billions of dollars in aid over the coming years.

But even as Haiti grappled with the aftermath of the earthquake, the country was plunged into another crisis with a cholera outbreak that has so far killed more than 2,700 people.

Cholera had not been documented in Haiti for decades and apart from blaming Nepalese soldiers serving with the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Haiti, angry and fearful Haitians were lynching voodoo leaders, who they also blamed for spreading the water borne disease despite a new study providing the strongest evidence yet that the disease came from South Asia.

As if the death toll from the earthquake and cholera outbreak was not enough, the country also suffered loss of lives due to the rains and winds associated with the tropical storms of the June to November 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.

Outgoing Caricom Secretary General, Sir Edwin Carrington — whose 44-year-old son Andre Gerard Edwin Carrington died this year "after a prolonged illness" — said the devastation caused by the earthquake and the cholera outbreak in Haiti demonstrated "the true value of membership of the community that when one partner is damaged, all turn to its aid".

And so it was in the case of Barbados, as Caricom citizens joined in mourning the death of Prime Minister David Thompson, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in October.

Thompson, 48, who became the island's sixth prime minister after he led his Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to victory in 2008, was the third Barbados head of government to die in office following prime ministers Tom Adams in 1985 and Errol Barrow two years later.

The Caribbean learnt of the full extent of Thompson's illness on September 16, when his personal physician Dr Richard Ishmael said that tests done in the United States had confirmed that he was suffering from carcinoma of the pancreas, manifested in the form of a tumour of his pancreatic gland.

Thompson's deputy, Fruendel Stuart, who had the task of notifying members of the Cabinet of the prime minister's death, was later sworn in as the country's new leader.

Politically, the Caribbean welcomed more women at the head of governments through elections, while the incumbents in St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines were returned to office with reduced majorities.

Up until yesterday, Haitians were still unsure as to who would replace President Rene Preval next February following the November 28 presidential elections, which were marred by allegations of voter irregularities and fraud.

Former first lady Mirlande Manigat and government technocrat Jude Celestin emerged as the two front runners for a second round of voting in January, but the results led to massive protests.

Britain announced to the citizens of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) that they would have to wait beyond July next year to elect a new government.

But London's relationship with its Caribbean overseas territories also took a battering in 2010, with the newly-elected Anguilla Chief Minister Hubert Hughes telling voters that he was emphatically asked by the island's British Governor, Alistair Harrison, to resign.

Hughes said that the Governor also called for the immediate dismissal of the Minister of Communication and Works Evan Gumbs and the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Walcott Richardson. But the chief minister assured residents that the government they elected in February continues to function.'

In May, Patrick Manning called fresh general elections in Trinidad and Tobago — nearly three years before the constitutional deadline — and it resulted in the oil-rich twin-island republic electing its first ever woman head of government in 58-year-old Kamla Persad Bissessar, for whom 2010 had been very kind.

In February she became the first woman to be elected Opposition Leader in Trinidad and Tobago, one month after she decisively got rid of the leader of the main opposition United National Congress (UNC), Basdeo Panday, in a bruising campaign in which she was portrayed as everything from a drunk to a weak leader.

Persad-Bissessar joins the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana and Portia Simpson Miller of Jamaica who have headed governments in their respective Caribbean countries.

For now, she will have company in the persons of Premier Paula Cox in Bermuda, who replaced a retired Dr Ewart Browne and veteran politician Sarah Wescott-Williams in St Maarten, both of whom took over as heads of their respective governments in October.

In Suriname, Desi Bouterse returned from the political wilderness, a conviction in absentia on drug-trafficking charges and being accused of the 1982 murder of 15 people, to become the President of the Dutch-speaking Caricom country.

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer was indebted to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal for the survival of his administration in Antigua and Barbuda, after a lower court had earlier ruled that his election and that of two senior government ministers were invalid due to polling day irregularities in March 2009.

But the Appeal Court found that Justice Louise Blenman had erred when she invalidated the victories of the three ministers.

Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his Education Minister Petter St Jean will no doubt be hoping for a similar ruling in their dual citizenship case that is now before the courts, while in Jamaica, the issue of dual citizenship has been playing itself out in the courts, so far without affecting the balance of power in the 60-member Parliament.

Former Barbados prime minister Owen Arthur, according to Mia Mottley, needed the help of a "kangaroo court" established by the Barbados Labour Party to oust her from the position of Opposition Leader she held since 2008.

In Jamaica, Prime Minister Bruce Golding survived various calls for his resignation in Jamaica over his handling of the extradition request for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Violence flared in West Kingston when security forces launched an offensive to capture Coke in May, resulting in the deaths of more than 70 persons and the imposition of a limited state of emergency. Coke later surrendered to law enforcement officials and waived his rights to an extradition trial in Jamaica.

In August, less than a month after telling journalists that he "never came to stay forever", Sir Edwin, the longest serving Caricom Secretary General, announced that he was resigning as the region's premier public servant after 18 years.

His resignation coincides with a decision by regional leaders to revisit the governance structure within the 37-year-old grouping with the outgoing Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Golding acknowledging that the issue "has plagued Caricom for many, many years.

"It has been the subject of numerous studies, consultations, discussions and proposals have been made," Golding said.

Economically, the region still grappled with the effects of the global economic crisis, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) acknowledging that the effect had been uneven.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said countries that followed sound policies "fared rather well" but "on the other hand, countries in Central America took longer to recover, and the tourism-dependent Caribbean countries are still suffering".

In fact, at yearend, the region tourism industry was still hoping that Britain would reform its controversial air passenger duty (APD) that stakeholders said could cripple the industry.

Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Richard Skerritt said that the new proposal had been submitted to Britain along with a detailed assessment of the impact of APD on Caribbean countries.

Antigua and Barbuda, which depends heavily on the tourism sector, announced during the year that it agreed to a US$124 million Stand-By Agreement with the IMF and that the deal came with one key conditionality — that the government cannot increase its stock of arrears or contract short term debt.

In January, the IMF said it had reached a US$1.25 billion Stand By Agreement with Jamaica.

For their part, the leaders of six Eastern Caribbean states signed a treaty establishing a single economic space among them and immediately signalled that they were prepared to widen the initiative to include other regional countries.

The leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines signed the revised Treaty of Basseterre bringing into being the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Economic Union.

Montserrat, the other full member of the Eastern Caribbean grouping, is awaiting the go ahead from Britain to participate in the initiative that the leaders said is an upgrade on the original accord that led to the establishment of the OECS 29 years ago.

St Lucia and St Vincent bore the brunt of the passage of Hurricane Tomas in late October with the death toll in St Lucia at seven.

Earlier in September, at least nine people were confirmed dead in Jamaica as the heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole affected the island.

Acclaimed Caribbean academic Professor Rex Nettleford, 77, died in a United States hospital and the region also bade farewell to social anthropologist Professor Alton Barry Chevannes, the noted economist Professor Denis Pantin, journalist and university lecturer John Maxwell, the journalist Norman Faria, who served as Guyana's Honorary Consul in Barbados for 16 years, the prominent St Lucian educator and cultural activist, Patricia Ellen Charles and former Privy Council judge , Sir Vincent Flossiac.

Johan Ferrier, Suriname's first president after the country gained independence in 1975 died a few months short of his 100th birthday, while former Dominica president Crispin Sorhaindo and Dr Bernard Yankey, a former OECS Commissioner to Canada also died during the year.

Suriname also mourned the death of the Governor of the Central Bank of Suriname, Andre Telting who had been running the institution since 2000 and Guyana said farewell to former deputy prime minister Winston Murray, who died without regaining consciousness 11 days after he collapsed and hit his head.

The live performances of Dame Marie Selipha Descartes, widely regarded as St Lucia's Queen of Culture, 59-year-old Jamaican reggae singer Gregory Isaacs, and Montserrat's Alphonsus Edmund Cassell (Arrow) came to an end in 2010. The Caribbean music industry also said goodbye to Oneil Edwards, a member of the Jamaican group, Voicemail, who was shot and killed by gunmen.

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Comment by deborah rollerson on January 1, 2011 at 10:54pm
NAW dearheart just an observation
Comment by JamRockLady on December 30, 2010 at 8:55pm eye for an eye then!
Comment by deborah rollerson on December 30, 2010 at 8:36pm
These reporters stories reflect the same ideas that are commented o these blogs. People bashes other races the same way you believe they are doing right now.
Comment by JamRockLady on December 30, 2010 at 8:27pm
@Kiana and Sweetness...their "messing" the those of African-descent....AGAIN!  This negative crap about our people by those white devils is just shameful now.  Clearly, they are sooo insecure about themselves they have to constantly shine a negative spotlight on other peoples culture.   When will this madness end?!? :(
Comment by Kiana on December 30, 2010 at 6:42pm
I really gotta stop messing with Jamrocklady...I'm feeling all militatnt! JUST KIDDING! :-)
Comment by Kiana on December 30, 2010 at 6:42pm
Emperialism is a b**** that won't let go!  England, France, THE US & Holland really need to work on their own counties.  Let Caribbean govern themselves.  But see that's where the fear lies...another Haiti is exactly what uniting could lead to.  Instead of uplifting the only Caribbean country to take its independance they shun it and allow it become the blemish on the "beauty" of the WI
Comment by DIAMOND on December 30, 2010 at 3:36pm
@ kiana some time we have to be captain for our own ship and sail it and anchor it girl.we have to take a stand for who we are.and what we are.its our caribbean people  
Comment by Kiana on December 30, 2010 at 2:48pm
@ Diamond - love it! I'm in the Caribbean 2-4x a year and I can't see myself loving anyother area of the world so much. I won't speak negativity about my beloved (especially Cuba) for 2011.  We deff need to ban together and become more self sufficient and stop relying on US aid for eveything as JamRocklady is referring to.  The US is notorious for being "Captain Save'em"
Comment by DIAMOND on December 30, 2010 at 2:29pm

All these crimes happen to these island there is alot of deportes.and deportes do not like to do odd jobs in island these are the one dealing with drugs guns and killing. its so sad we can go home to relax on holidays you have to watch our backs when sleeping.i love my house in island but i have to stay in hotel.these days the thieve have more guns then the army no joks.

When there is a disaster in any island we as a family of god we should be helping we can not waited on the government to help the people please send a message to me and will collect $$ and we will help.any disaster in any island flooding earthquake.there is no bad luck in caribbean.IF WE TRUST GOD THERE NO PROMBLE. TO ALL THE CARIBBEAN PEOPLE LETS MAKE 2011 OUR YEAR WE ARE POWER TO DO IT WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE (2010 WAS MINE GOOD HEALTH STRENGHT FINANCIALLY AND SPIRITUALLY AND CLAIM IT AGAIN FOR 2011 MY ENTIRE LIFE DEPAND ON THE BIG GUY UPSTAIR )

Comment by JamRockLady on December 30, 2010 at 1:00pm

This is propoganda.  They (the U.S.) cause ALL these thing to occur in 2010, then "they" realese this story illustrating how the Caribbean has had "bad luck" this year.  This is pure: Diocletian's Problem-Reaction-Solution:

They cause the problem, we react, the "swoop" in with the solution (which is to kill off our Caribbean people, one by one, and take over their resource-rich land).  SMH.

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