ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Immigration officers are questioning four Venezuelan men who allegedly tried to sneak into the country illegally on Sunday.

The four were found moments after they swam ashore at Long Bay sometime between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm. It is alleged that the men were dropped off by a boat and, after authorities received a tip-off about their arrival, the group was promptly intercepted.

ROSEAU, Dominica – The leader of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, has said the police are in “combat mode” with the Dominican population after the party was denied permission to stage a march here on Thursday.

But Linton said the party and other “patriots” will be staging two meeting here on Thursday “for which we do not need permission”.

He said the first meeting will take place in Pottersville on the outskirts of the capital starting at 5.00 pm (local time) and there will be another meeting in Lagon at 7.30 in the evening.

“We are going to do it peacefully, we are going to do it very orderly, we are not in any confrontation mode, we are simply saying in a loud voice with the sons and daughters from all across Dominica that Skerrit must go,” Linton added.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Three members of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), including its leader and former finance minister Harold Lovell, were freed on Tuesday after charges were dropped against them at a magistrates’ court.

Jubiliant UPP supporters chanted and celebrated as Lovell, former education minister Dr Jacqui Quinn and the St Phillip South Member of Parliament, Wilmoth Daniel, emerged from the court building.

The trio had been charged with larceny, fraudulent conversion and corruption in relation to three Daewoo buses worth more than EC$600,000 that had been donated to the former UPP administration by Japan.

The prosecution had alleged that the trio converted the buses for personal use and had them registered in their names while they were in public office.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados  – The Caribbean Drought & Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPMN) is warning countries in the region that the same abnormal climate conditions they have experienced over the last few years, which resulted in some of the worst drought in two decades, could continue this year.

Several Caribbean countries, particularly in the eastern Caribbean, experienced a drier than normal February, and in some cases both February and January were relatively dry, CDPMN said.

The Barbados-based network also said that although there is some uncertainty over rainfall during the March to May period in some parts of the Caribbean, concerns remain for the western Caribbean/Greater Antilles for both short and long term drought, and in the southern portion of the eastern Caribbean for long term drought.

“Some models also suggest the possibility for the return of El Niño, and drier than normal conditions late in 2017,” Chief of Applied Meteorology and Climatology at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), Adrian Trotman told IPS. “The CDPMN will continue to monitor this situation.”

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet travelled to Haiti on Monday for talks with government and U.N. officials weeks before the start of her country’s announced withdrawal of military peacekeepers.

Bachelet’s stop included meetings with President Jovenel Moise, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti and the nearly 400 Chileans currently serving in the U.N. stabilization mission.

Chile’s government announced last year it would begin withdrawing its peacekeepers, and Bachelet’s office now says the gradual pullout will begin April 15.

That is the same day the U.N. Security Council is due to decide the future of the U.N. stabilization mission in Haiti, which was established after a 2004 rebellion ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is recommending the U.N. peacekeeping mission as a whole wrap up with the departure of all 2,370 military personnel by Oct. 15. Troops come from 19 countries.

The U.N. chief said a successor smaller peacekeeping operation should be established in Haiti to continue to support police training, political stability, good governance, electoral reform, the rule of law and human rights.

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