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COMMENTARY by David Usborne

DONALD TRUMP is rolling back the opening to Cuba that his predecessor, Barack Obama, began, and we should ask a couple of questions. If the purpose is to hasten change on the island, is this going to be helpful? Second, what are the motivations behind this semi-reversal? To please his base, or to deliver a sly gift to Vladimir Putin and snub his own Republicans on Capitol Hill?

MIAMI — Pressing "pause" on a historic detente, President Donald Trump thrust the U.S. and Cuba back on a path toward open hostility Friday with a blistering denunciation of the island's communist government. He clamped down on some commerce and travel but left intact many new avenues President Barack Obama had opened.

Soldiers in Guyana have seized heavy-duty mining equipment from a protected area that features one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world.

A JAMAICA OFFICIAL says some of her compatriots with CARICOM Skills Certificate are still finding difficulty in working on some countries in the region.

CARIBBEAN LEADERS SAY PROPOSED CUTS TO THE U.S. State Department’s foreign aid budget could have serious implications for the region and the United States at a time when there is increasing concern about terrorism.

JURORS IN THE UNITED STATES HAVE HEARD an emotional plea from the mother of a Jamaican man facing a possible death penalty in the stabbing murders of a Pennsylvania woman and her 16-year-old daughter.

The Lancaster County jury convicted 40-year-old Leeton Thomas of first-degree murder Tuesday in the June 2015 slayings of 44-year-old Lisa Sheetz and her daughter Hailey. Authorities said they were scheduled to testify against him in a child sex assault case.

LNP newspaper said jurors hearing testimony Wednesday on whether Thomas should be sentenced to death or life in prison without possibility of parole heard the defendant's mother beg them to spare her son's life, saying "please save him".

Defence attorneys also plan to cite mitigating factors such as poverty and abuse they say Thomas endured growing up in Jamaica.

Thomas, who had permanent resident status in the United States, is a former construction worker and home remodeler. He turned 40 on Tuesday.

Lancaster County prosecutors earlier said they would seek capital punishment against him.

THE POLICE ARE REPORTING THAT A JAMAICAN man who was listed among the top 10 most wanted in the United States is to be extradited.

JAMAICAN Moravian Minister Rupert Clarke has been charged with another count of having sex with someone under 16 years old.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CARIBUPDATE/DEC 16, 2016) — The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has welcomed the passage of the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act which is aimed at consolidating Washington’s  engagement with the Caribbean.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CARIBUPDATE/DEC 16, 2016) — The Guyana Government warned employers against seeking to exploit their workers during the Christmas season, reminding them that “the requisite overtime rates of pay shall apply” among other working conditions.

CASTRIES, St Lucia (CARIBUPDATE/DEC 16, 2016) — The St Lucia Government has announced a “heightened surveillance” of pregnant women after 50 of them have tested positive for the mosquito borne Zika virus (ZikV) and raising new concerns about the impact of the disease in St Lucia.

A street vendor inspects the authenticity of a 100-bolivar note as people stand in line outside a bank to deposit their bank 100-bolivar bank notes, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Caribbean

CARACAS, Venezuela (CARIBUPDATE/DEC 16, 2016) — Venezuela became a country without cash Friday.

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