BELIZE CITY, Belize – Police in Belize were questioning “a few people” Wednesday in connection with the strangulation deaths of a Canadian woman and her American boyfriend but no arrests have been made yet.

The bodies of Francesca Matus, 52, of Toronto, and Drew DeVoursney, 36, from Georgia, were found Monday afternoon in a sugar cane field in the country’s Corozal district.

Police said on Tuesday that both had died of strangulation and that DeVoursney’s body was found on top of Matus’s body and that both were in an “advanced state of decomposition.”

David DeVoursney, who is in Belize to bring his body back to the United States, said that police have had “a few persons of interest in for questioning” in connection with the murders, but added there have been “no arrests so far.”

Matus and DeVoursney had been missing since last Tuesday when they were last seen leaving a local bar around 11 p.m. Dozens of Canadian and American expats were involved in the search, scouring the beaches, waterways and the bush.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The St. Kitts-Nevis government Wednesday denied a regional media report that the authorities in the twin island Federation were harbouring a Chinese national who is wanted by the International Police (INTERPOL).

In a statement, the Timothy Harris administration said that contrary to the media report, the Chinese citizen “referred to in the report … was granted St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship some four years ago in September 2013.

“Accordingly, as a citizen, he is entitled by virtue of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis to due process as is any other citizen.  The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is deeply concerned that the news story reported that undercover Chinese police officials interviewed the child of the alleged fugitive in St. Kitts in the absence of the parents.”

The government said that it is important to note that the relevant authorities in “the People’s Republic of China have made no formal request to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis in respect to this matter.

“The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is cognizant that there is an established legal framework for dealing with the return of fugitives, and the extradition of any citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis therefore must be done in accordance with the law.”

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Local media houses again came under fire from the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as the 62-year-old political organization held its third FACTS conference at the Belfield Community Centre in Black Rock Sunday evening.

Two of the three main speakers delivered a verbal onslaught on the media – an issue that attracted the loudest and most sustained applause from the party faithful.

At least one male supporter was heard heckling a journalist, but Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, who started the verbal attacks, quickly rebuked the supporter before continuing his own tirade.

“You are not doing your country that you born in any favours at all. I don’t care if you don’t like Donville Inniss, I don’t care if you don’t like Freundel Stuart, I don’t care if you don’t like the Democratic Labour Party . . . I say to you as journalists, you have a duty to act more responsibly,” Inniss said while trying to shout above the boisterous cheers from supporters.

“What happens in Barbados . . . is that you got individuals who write articles for media houses in Barbados [who] do not check the facts,” he added.

 He lambasted reporters for “regurgitating what other people are saying and run wid it” without verifying the authenticity of the sources.

While declaring that he did not care if people thought he was fat or ugly, the outspoken Cabinet minister warned: “But leh me tell wunna something, you all are Barbadians and your country must come first and foremost . . .”

“You got individual organizations who the media in Barbados never check their credentials, but yuh know, once it comes out of the United States of America, yuh believe it is gospel,” he added.

Inniss complained that media houses then get “a few individuals who really don’t give a darn” about Barbados or the Government, who believe the best thing they could achieve is to see the back of the DLP, giving, ‘I told you so’ reactions.

The Government minister further complained that anything that was negative about Barbados coming from overseas was “plastered all over the front page”, while the positive news was relegated next to the court pages or obituaries.  He claimed that factual stories from reputable agencies did not make the front pages of local newspapers.

Stinging comments on the media also flowed from the lips of Parliamentary Representative for St Michael West Central James Paul while Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy was more concerned about “the misinformation” being spread by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

 When he took to the podium, Paul said he agreed with Inniss’ comments about the local media.

“We lack the Press of the past. Gladstone Holder, a true Barbadian statesman in this country, he was no friend or foe to any party, but he had a philosophy which he did not allow any particular political party to undermine or compromise . . . he had a philosophy . . . it was not based on ‘he say, or they say’,” said Paul.

LONDON – New oil discoveries off the coast of Guyana mean the country is poised to become a major new petroleum producer in the coming years.

One well drilled in October 2016 has been described by Exxon Mobil as “confirming a world-class resource discovery in excess of 1 billion oil-equivalent barrels”. The find could earn the South American nation multiple billions of dollars in tax revenues.

Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, has confirmed the government intends to table new legislation before Parliament with the goal of moving to oil production in 2020.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has been advising the Ministry of Natural Resources since 2013 on the legislative and institutional reforms required to regulate Guyana’s emerging oil and gas industry.

Mr Trotman said: “The Ministry of Natural Resources has been especially fortunate to engage with the Commonwealth for the development of many of its policies, which are now coming of age as the country enters a new phase of development with the advent of its oil and gas industry.”

A new Sovereign Wealth Fund – a state-owned fund which will reinvest oil and gas revenues – and a new Petroleum Commission, a regulatory agency, are centrepieces of the proposed legal and institutional framework.

The Secretariat’s legal and economic experts have advised on draft legislation for the Sovereign Wealth Fund, a draft National Upstream Oil and Gas Policy, and a revision of Guyana’s Petroleum Exploration and Production Act and Regulations.

The reforms will ensure oil revenues benefit ordinary people in Guyana, through job creation and investments in public services and infrastructure.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s oceans and natural resources team has been working “assiduously” with the Ministry, said Mr Trotman. “This level of commitment has been the hallmark of the relationship developed with the Commonwealth team, and is highly valued,” he said.

Daniel Wilde, Economic Adviser on Natural Resources at the Secretariat, said the recent discoveries mean that Guyana is on a path to becoming a significant oil producer. “We are assisting the government ensure that this oil wealth is wisely managed and contributes to sustainable economic development.

“This involves advising the government on how to transparently and effectively regulate the upstream oil industry and helping to establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund. This fund should ensure that oil revenues do not lead to a loss of economic competiveness and that future generations fairly benefit from today’s oil wealth.”

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman – The Cayman Islands Government recently completed a new National Energy Policy (NEP). A priority goal of the policy is to decrease energy costs in the country, in light of the very high price of energy in the Cayman Islands.

In addition to decreased energy costs, the Cayman Islands’ goals for its energy sector include increased environmental sustainability, and a contribution to the economic development of the energy industry. The new NEP recommends that 70 percent of the islands’ total electricity generation should come from renewable energy sources by the year 2037.

In addition to boosting the use of renewable energy sources within the next 20 years, the policy also seeks to cut individual carbon dioxide emissions by more than two-thirds by 2037.

It is proposed that the policy be reviewed every five years, not only to monitor and report on progress, but also to reset the targets and implementation plans in recognition of opportunities that will arise from the constantly changing technological environment.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional headquarters for the Caribbean played a significant role in the formulation of a new policy.

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