Caribbean news briefs

Cuban shoppers stock up on

Shoppers in Cuba have been stocking up on soap, toothpaste
and detergent ahead of a price jump resulting from the end of state subsidies.

Cuts in state-provided rations start on Saturday

The Cuban government announced on Wednesday that it would
drop personal hygiene products from the monthly ration allocated to citizens
since the Cuban revolution.

The move, effective 1 January, is part of a series of
economic reforms aimed at reducing state debt.

Sugar, beans, meat, rice, eggs, bread and other basic
products remain subsidised.


Ex-TT president dies

The first President of Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Ellis
Clarke, has died at the age of 93.

A release from his family said Sir Ellis, a constitutional
lawyer, never recovered from a stroke he suffered a month ago.

He was the last Governor-General of Trinidad and Tobago
before it became a republic in 1976.

He then assumed the largely ceremonial role as President
and served for two terms before retiring in 1987.

Sir Ellis was attorney general in the late 1950s and
drafted Trinidad and Tobago’s independence constitution
of 1962.

He also held senior diplomatic positions, including
ambassadorships to the United Nations and Washington.


Asthma worries US territory

Authorities in Puerto Rico
are baffled by the island’s high prevalence rate for asthma.

“Asthma is huge in Puerto
Rico,” said Dr. Esteban Gonzalez Burchard, director of the Center for Genes,
Environments and Health at the University of California, San Francisco.

Children on the island are
nearly 300 per cent more likely to have the respiratory ailment than white
non-Hispanic children in the continental United States, the Associated Press