First US Commercial Flight In Five Decades Lands In Cuba

​Story Credit: Caribbean News Service 

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, Aug 31 2016 – The flight from Fort Lauderdale to this city in central Cuba on Wednesday morning took only 51 minutes, but it represented a major step in ending decades of isolation between communist Cuba and the United States.

JetBlue Flight 387 was the first regularly scheduled commercial flight between the Cold War foes in 55 years, the latest example of how the two countries are normalizing relations. Nine other U.S. airlines will soon follow with their own routes, which could balloon up to 110 flights per day from cities throughout the U.S. to Cuban cities.

A ceremonial water cannon salute showered the Airbus 320 jetliner before it departed Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. And Cuban dignitaries at Abel Santamaría Airport greeted the flight when it landed.

“The last time there were scheduled flights to Cuba, if you wanted to buy a ticket, you had to go to a ticket office. You’d fly to Cuba on a propeller plane,” said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes before the flight departed. “So it just shows how in 55 years things have changed.”

The Fort Lauderdale terminal outside Gate F10 resembled more of a party than a regular flight. A salsa band played as passengers munched on Cuban pastries.

José Ramón Cabañas, the Cuban ambassador to the U.S., said reaching this point required months of negotiations between U.S. transportation and security officials and their counterparts in Cuba.

“Today is another historic day,” he said. “And we have been saying that phrase many times during the last months.”

President Obama opened the door to Cuba in December 2014, when he and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced that the longtime foes would re-establish diplomatic relations. Much has changed since then, with officials re-opening embassies in Washington and Havana, and U.S. businesses signing new deals with Cuba.

Domenic Santana, a retired nightclub owner from New York City, said that opening inspired him to return to his native Cuba and get reacquainted with the country he left as a child. Santana proudly held out his ticket for Wednesday’s inaugural flight: seat 1A.

“I splurged a little,” Santana, 53, said with a laugh. “This is just so meaningful for me. Not knowing my country, not knowing the people, it’s about time I’m going back. It’s long overdue.”

Despite Obama’s opening with Cuba, the U.S. still maintains an economic embargo on the communist island, which has made travel there difficult in the past.

In past decades, Americans had to establish that they fit into one of 12 travel categories approved by the U.S. government, including educational, cultural, religious and business trips. They then had to rely on costly and cumbersome charter flights that operated mostly out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

The Obama administration changed those rules. Now, U.S. travelers can book flights online from 12 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and New York City. They can clear the U.S. visa requirement by buying one at the airline ticket counter, and they can compare prices from 10 different airlines.

Leanne Spencer, a wedding planner from Salt Lake City, said she spent days calling and emailing the State and Treasury departments to make sure she could legally be on Wednesday’s flight. She wanted to take her daughter, Natalie, to Cuba to see a place they had only known through documentaries and movies.

She eventually got someone from the Treasury Department on the phone who assured her that her trip fit into the educational category of approved travel.

“He said, ‘Have a great time,’” said Spencer, 51, who paid $50 for her visa at the Fort Lauderdale airport Wednesday morning. “It was easy.”

About 161,000 Americans — not including Cuban-Americans visiting relatives — made the journey in 2015, a 77% jump from the previous year. That number jumped another 80% in the first three months of 2016, and the stream of Americans could continue as new flights take off, said José Luis Perelló, an economist with the University of Havana’s Center for Tourism Studies.

Santana said that influx will help countless Cubans improve their financial situation. And he hopes they remember that.

“They should make a big, big statue in honor of Obama,” he said. “He was the president to start everything and hopefully he’ll be remembered in Cuba for many years to come.”


Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 29, 2016 (RSCNPF): On Sunday 28th August 2016, officers of  the Frigate Bay Police and the Special Services Unit (SSU) executed five (5) search warrants on premises in Camps, Conaree, Buckley’s and Frigate Bay  as part of ongoing investigations into the recent spate of breakings in the Half Moon and Frigate Bay areas.  

Six laptops, two Iphones, one Ipad, one tablet, two play stations, two gold watches and two gold bracelets were seized. 


Five (5) persons were also arrested on suspicion of burglary and are presently assisting in the investigations.


Persons in the Frigate Bay and Half Moon areas who are victims of these burglaries and are missing similar items are asked to contact the Frigate Bay Police Station to identify the items seized.


The Police take this opportunity to remind residents to ensure that all the locking mechanisms of their doors and windows are functional and their homes are properly secured at all times, particularly when leaving or retiring to bed.


Home owners are also advised to record the serial numbers of all electronic items or otherwise mark all valuable possessions.


Additional security measures such as the installation of alarms and surveillance systems and the use of security dogs will make your homes less attractive to would be burglars.


EC$1.6 million restoration project commences at Government House in Bath Plain


Photo caption: (l-r) Contractor for the restoration project of the Governor’s House at Bath Plain Alton Brown and Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister responsible for Housing and Lands in the Nevis Island Administration on the site of the project on August 23, 2016

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 25, 2016) — Restoration work on the 1909 Government House at Bath Plain has commenced. The EC$1.6 million project is expected to be completed in eight months.


The disclosure came from Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister responsible for Housing and Lands in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) when he toured the construction site on August 23, 2016. He said the integrity of the building would remain and it would be made liveable again and open to visitors. Alton Brown, who restored the Old Treasury Building in Charlestown, is the project contractor.


“We are going to maintain the general look of the building. We are not changing the structure in any way. We are enhancing what we have here and maintaining that colonial look.


“We know how proud persons are of the architecture of this particular building and we want to maintain that and ensure that we are consistent with the history of Nevis,” he said.


Photo caption: Restoration project commences at the Governor’s House at Bath Plain

Mr. Jeffers underscored the historic importance the building and the role it has played in the island’s history. Up to the time of its closure due to an infestation of wood lice, it housed the residence and office of the Deputy Governor General.


“This building is an important building to the island of Nevis in terms of its history, in terms of it being a landmark. This building was constructed in 1909 and since then, it has been home to many different persons including governors of the Leeward Islands who would have passed through. Queen Elizabeth II would have passed through here back in 1966.


Photo caption: Workmen preparing area for a new Green heart wooden floor

“Since our independence in 1983, it has been the home of our deputy governor general. We have since moved the deputy governor general because it was not habitable…For those persons about my age or a little older, many of you would recall coming to the grounds of the Government House for tea parties, for cocktails and other official engagements and we want to get back to those days,” he said.

 Photo caption: Thick stone walls at historic Government House at Bath Plain built in 1909


Meantime, Mr. Brown in his description of the scope of works explained what his team would be engaged in the coming weeks.


“We will be removing all wooden materials that is existing in the building which was totally infested with wood lice. At the same time we are just checking other materials that are necessary to be removed including loose stone which were made out of limestone. On the upper floor, we will remove all mortar to the walls, replacing them with mortar made with limestone also but of a different texture.


On the ground floor we will be framing all the internal walls and replace them with wooden panels…We took out all the damage woodlice-infested wood and we are redoing the entire floor and framing the upper floor for the internal partition walls,” he said.


The greenheart wood which was imported from Guyana for the project 10 years ago, would be utilised in the restoration project. Mr. Browne assured that once that type of wood is properly stored it lasts for as much as 100 years.


He noted that although some were damaged because of exposure to the elements, 90 percent of the stock would be used for the project.


Regarding the integrity of the structure, he said it remains sound with its solid 24 inch-thick walls with interlocking stones.


He expressed his amazement after taking the levels in the building, to discover that only one side has sunken by 1 ¾ inches over the years since its construction in 1909, which suggests a solid foundation. He said it is the first such finding in his career of restoring old buildings.


Brown says he has restored several old buildings in his home country Guyana and in recent times on Nevis.


“I always feel it’s a feat when you do that and you look back and see what you brought it from. It’s like bringing back the dead,” he smiled.






Improvement works ongoing on key bridge in Barnaby Village 

Photo caption: Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Area Representative for the St. James’ Parish and Minister responsible for Communication and Works in the Nevis Island Administration at Barnaby Village at the site of ongoing improvement works to a key bridge on August 23, 2016


NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 24, 2016) — The community of Barnaby and other commuters in the area will soon be able to traverse a key bridge there with greater ease and safety, thanks to a five- to six-week project being managed by the Public Works Department and subcontracted to local contractors.


Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Area Representative for the St. James’ Parish and Minister responsible for Communication and Works in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) made the disclosure when he visited the area on August 23, 2016.


 “We are doing this improvement and it is a welcome improvement for persons who live in the area and the persons who traverse this area.


“It certainly brings some relief and indeed some form of safety to them and their children who, from time to time, would have had to negotiate a considerable amount of water in the area,” he said.

Photo caption: Ongoing improvement work by local contractors on a bridge at Barnaby Village on August 23, 2016


The Minister explained, that the bridge which is in the vicinity of the old Flavours Restaurant was built about 20 years ago but in recent years, due to construction and the loss of vegetation in surrounding areas, has not been able to handle the increasing volume of water during heavy rainfall.


“In recent times, we have had a significant amount of rainfall in the rainy season and what has happened is that because of the size of the opening of the bridge, water would come over that bridge and find its way into the various properties around here which would have proven to be unsafe and a dangerous situation to deal with. So we have decided that it is time to do something about it,” he said.

According to Mr. Jeffers, the improved bridge will be elevated from 2-3 feet to 6-8 feet to ensure that the water which comes from Pot Works and the Island Main Road makes its way to the ocean at Long Haul Bay.



​“A Man Can’t Serve Two Masters”, says NRP leader Parry

Picture: Hon. Joseph Parry , Leader of the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP)

Charlestown, Nevis(Thursday, August 25, 2016)-The Hon. Joseph Parry, leader of the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) said Nevis is presently being “abandoned and neglected” under the present Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) led Nevis Island Administration who are also part of the UNITY-Federal government in St. Kitts.

Parry made the statement on Tuesday’s edition of Issues on Freedom FM as he referred to the much talked about landmark amendment to the NRP party constitution which includes the prohibition of NRP candidates to serve in both the Federal and Nevis Island Administration.  The final result is that the NRP will field one set of candidates for Federal and one set of candidates for the Nevis Island Assembly.
The point of the amendment to the 46 year old constitution is to prohibit the same persons serving in the Federal government and in the Nevis Island Assembly.
“What we have done with the amendment is not to prevent our candidates from taking part in the Federal election but it is about no one person serving in the Federal and Nevis Island Administration at the same time”, commented Parry.
He went on to say that a number of persons who are content with the present arrangement is because they back Premier Vance Amory and Deputy Premier, Mark Brantley with the “double dipping” in both the Federal and Nevis Island Administration while people in Nevis are suffering with the lack of economic development.
“The people in the Federation are always saying this is wrong or you are not doing this right.  Well I along with my NRP party took it upon us to do something tangible by not just talking about change but by putting action forth,” commented Parry.
The programs host, E.K asked, “Well the Deputy Premier, Hon. Mark Brantley said that Former Premier Simeon Daniel collected two salaries.”
Hon. Parry told E.K and the listeners that Mr. Brantley should not misrepresent Mr. Daniel who was like a second father and a mentor to Brantley.  “I was there and Daniel only collected a salary from the Federal government and a constituency allowance from Nevis, not a full salary”.
“Mr. Brantley should not say such things which are not true.  The present Governor General- Tapley Seaton, Consie Mitchum, Hugh Heyliger, Richard Caines and Dr. Kennedy Simmonds are all alive and well, you can ask anyone of them,” stated Parry.
The leader of the Nevis Reformation Party was a representative for the parishes of St. James and St. Thomas in the Federal Parliament but resigned in 2000, stating that he wanted to focus on Nevis issues.


“ I believe that no man can serve two masters and that is why we are seeing that the two Nevisian ministers are in St.Kitts more than Nevis and Nevis is not being developed instead Nevis is simply taking hand outs from St.Kitts. The CCM administration are doing nothing to bring economic progress to Nevis .  Nothing is being done on the island to take the island forward,” said Hon. Parry.
 Numerous calls came in where people were blatantly upset with the “double dipping” of the two Nevisian ministers. One caller congratulated the NRP on the landmark amendment stating, “It is not just a political move Mr. Parry… it is a national move forward.” 
 That statement ties into a concept aligned to a recent commentary on SKNVIBES by VonDez Phipps who outlined three main reasons that the NRP constitution amendment should be a national issue:
It removes a damning conflict of interest:  As a member of the NIA pursues, as a priority, matters of concern to Nevis, whilst a member of the Federal government focuses on matters concerning St.Kitts- Nevis. These two interests converge but many times they conflict and compete. An example is the dual role of Deputy Premier Mark Brantley as he is Minister of Tourism in Nevis and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation in St.Kitts. Brantley is the face of Nevis tourism which is separate and sometimes competes.  As aviation minister to the Federal government, do Brantley attract more airlifts to St.Kitts or Nevis?
It ensures accountability through the separation of powers: For example- the decision of the Federal government to assist the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) with budgetary support in the amount of $10 million.  It was in the interest of the NIA members to argue for the manifesto promise to be fulfilled without delay however, as they are Federal dollars, it was in the interest of the Federal government to have a parliamentary debate to assure the people of St.Kitts and Nevis that this measure is in the best interest of the Federation.
It refocuses the NIA to be distinctly Nevisian: Under the present UNITY arrangement the political expedience is unprincipled, it generates split loyalties, undermines local government and is of little benefit to Nevis.
Many others called in to the program congratulating Parry and the NRP.  One significant female caller said, “Mr. Parry, I have backed you ever since I saw your stance with the hotel in Nevis (Four Seasons Resort -Nevis).  I admired what you did for the people since then!”  To that statement Hon. Parry declared, “I don’t enjoy victimizing my people, I enjoy fighting for my people.”



Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 24, 2016 (RSCNPF):  A late night search on Tuesday (August 23) of two (2) empty lots of land in the Conaree area by officers of the Special Services Unit (SSU) resulted in the discovery and seizure of two (2) 9mm pistols and fifty one (51) rounds of ammunition.


The two (2) black and silver Smith and Wesson 9mm pistols with six (6) rounds of 9mm ammunition and forty five (45) rounds of .45 caliber ammunition were found buried in a hole on one (1) of the lots.  No one has been held accountable for the find.   As normal procedure, these firearms will be forensically examined to determine the extent if any of their involvement in any criminal activity. This seizure brings to twenty three (23), the number of illegal firearms seized by the Police so far in 2016, surpassing the twenty one (21) seized in 2015.


On Friday (August 19) an illegal firearm was discovered and seized in Nevis during a community patrol; on Saturday (August 20) two “fake firearms” and a quantity of ammunition were seized by police while searching abandoned properties in St. Kitts.    


Commissioner of Police Mr. Ian M. Queeley commenting on the seizure said,  “our latest discovery within the last five (5) days is testament to the fact that our policing efforts are continuing to bear fruits.”  He added, “we have had a steady success in finding and removing these illegal firearms from our communities, every illegal firearm removed is one less instrument to inflict injury or death amongst our your people.  Further, I am appealing to the general public to stand up and be counted by providing the evidence required leading to the prosecution of these criminals.” 


The removal of illegal firearms from our communities is one of the deliverables of the Police Six Point Plan rolled out last year.  

By sknpulse Posted in Crime


Photo: Trevor M. Ward Q.C. 

Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 23, 2016 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis’ Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Senator Vincent F. Byron, announced today in the Sitting of the National Assembly, that Trinidadian born Trevor M. Ward Q.C. has been appointed as resident high court judge in St. Kitts, having been approved by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States under the Chair of the Honourable Janice Mesadis Pereira, DBE.

Queen’s Counsel Ward has previously served as Director of Public Prosecutions in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Cayman Islands from November 2011-December 2014. He has also served as Senior Crown Counsel in the Cayman Islands Legal Department from November 2007-October 2011. Additionally, he has served as Senior State Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Trinidad and Tobago from 2003-2005.

Q.C. Ward has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English Language and Literature/Letters from the University of the West Indies (U.W.I.), St. Augustine Campus, (1987-1990) with Upper Second Class Honours. He was awarded his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the U.W.I., St. Augustine Campus (1992-1994) with Upper Second Class Honours. He then went on to the High Wooding Law School in Trinidad where he completed his Legal Education Certificate (LEC).

Q.C. Ward succeeds Trinidadian Her Ladyship Justice Marlene Ida Carter, who resigned as High Court Judge effective August 15, 2016, from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. She was sworn in to the post as St. Kitts’ resident judge on June 30, 2014.       





Photo Caption: Fake shotgun seized by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police force 

Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 23, 2016 (RSCNPF):  The execution of a number of search warrants and a subsequent search of neighbouring abandoned properties netted the Police two “fake” firearms, a shot-gun and a .9mm pistol.  Additionally, a box containing 64 rounds of .22  ammunition was also found.   


The searches were conducted in the McKnight area by officers of the Special Services Unit (SSU) and in Sandy Point (Crab Hill) by officers assigned to District “B” whose stations include Old Road, Sandy Point, St. Pauls, Dieppe Bay and Tabernacle.   

Photo  Caption: Second Fake gun seized by the police.  9mm

No one was held accountable for the items. They were seized by the Police.  


“The discovery and seizure of these items is an indication that the items used by the criminals to commit crimes are not kept on their premises. As we continue to search the abandoned properties and lots, and as continue our stop and search operations of  both of vehicles and persons, we will continue to yield results” said Divisional Commander Supt(Ag) Travis Rogers.


“The find today is significant, the “fake” firearms could have been used to commit crimes and the ammunition to inflict injuries or death to our citizens, both are now in the hands of the Police,” he added.

Photo Caption: Ammunition seized by the police force

The discovery of these two “fake” firearms and the ammunition comes on the heels of a similar success on Friday (August 19) in Nevis, in which a Smith and Wesson pistol with matching ammunition was found during a community patrol by officers of the Nevis Division. 


To date 21 illegal firearms have been removed from our communities in 2016. 

By sknpulse Posted in Crime

Inland Revenue Department unveils state-of-the-art bus stand as part of tax awareness drive


Photo caption: (l-r) Neva Manners-Limonta, Deputy Comptroller at the Inland Revenue Department and Collin Dore, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance commissioning the state-of-the-art bus stand on the Island Main Road near Horsford’s Valu Mart adopted by the department on Nevis on August 12, 2016

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (August 18, 2016) — A bus stand with tax tips, Wifi access and the ability to recharge mobile devices, is the latest initiative by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) on Nevis in its tax awareness drive. The IRD Bus Stop, as it’s called, is stationed on the Island Main Road near Horsford’s Valu Mart.


Colin Dore, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, in remarks at a small ceremony to commission the facility on August 12, 2016, told the public that the bus stand is a token of appreciation from the department to taxpayers, which serves as a reminder to pay their taxes. 


“This initiative must not be seen as just an ordinary bus stop but instead as a means of educating, informing and reminding you, the taxpayers, of the array of taxes to which you are liable.


“Each time you drive pass, let this bus stop serve as a gentle reminder of the need to meet your tax obligations on time,” he said.


The Permanent Secretary urged members of the community to use the facility properly and not vandalise or deface it with graffiti in any way.


Photo caption: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance on Nevis Colin Dore delivering remarks at the unveiling of the Inland Revenue Department’s state-of-the-art bus stand on the Island Main Road near Horsford’s Valu Mart unveiled by the Inland Revenue Department  on Nevis on August 12, 2016

Dore commended the department for the initiative and encouraged the staff to continue to be creative in the tax awareness campaign. 


“I wish to commend the Inland Revenue Department for the strides they have made in their tax awareness efforts. The Ministry of Finance supports the department as they continually aspire to raise tax awareness to the general public through various events,” he said.


Photo caption: Staff of the Inland Revenue Department at the newly commissioned bus stand on the Island Main Road near Horsford’s Valu Mart on August 12, 2016, adopted by the department 


The Permanent Secretary noted that through the various campaign efforts the department has been successful in increasing the compliance rate among tax payers.


He stated that taxes are the lifeblood of a country and is an important element that enables the administration to provide an array of services to the people of Nevis through social services, health care, education, roads and water, among others.


“Everyone, therefore, has a responsibility to pay his or her share of taxes:  whether business taxes  such as Corporate Income Tax or Unincorporated Business Tax  or individual taxes such as Property Taxes, Levy etc.,” Dore said.


The department has engaged in a number of awareness campaigns including Business and Occupational License Update drives, Property Tax Mobile Centre drives, Tax awareness outreach initiatives and the “Be a Responsible Citizen” public service announcements campaign.






Photo Caption: The late Brian Pacquette coffin draped with the St. Kitts and Nevis flag. 

Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 10, 2016 (RSCNPF): Police Constable Brian J. Pacquette of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force was interned on Tuesday (August 9) with full military honours in his native country of Dominica. 


In a service held at the Truth and Grace Fellowship Global on Independence St. in Roseau, a large crowd of mourners and Police joined his family to pay final respects to Police Constable Pacquette. 

Photo Caption: A contingent of officers from St. Kitts along with the Defence Force participating in the military service.


A contingent of Police and Defence Force personnel travelled from the Federation to participate in the military service with Police Officers serving as the Bearing Party, the Firing Party and Mourning Party and the Defence Force providing Band and Drum Corps support. 


The coffin draped in the national flag of St. Kitts and Nevis was carried into the church and to gravesite by a detail of officers from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. Members of the Dominica Police Force and other Law Enforcement agencies and the Cadet Corps were also on hand to pay their respects. Police Constable Pacquette was a member of the Cadet Corps in his younger years.


Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Mr. Osmond Petty and Commissioner of Police Mr. Ian M. Queeley were joined by dignitaries and senior officials from the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica at the service.    


Police Constable Pacquette passed away on Monday, July 18 while undergoing treatment for injuries sustained during the execution of his duties. He served eight (8) years in the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.


He was interned at Roseau Public Cemetery in Dominica.