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CARIBBEAN NEWS

men who robbed, beat judge and her husband get 16 years

June 24, 2016
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GUYANA – THREE men were sentenced to 16 years imprisonment by Magistrate Zamilla Ally-Seepaul for the robbery and home invasion of Land Court Judge Nicola Pierre and her husband Mohammed Chan. Dameion Millington, 22, of Lot 118 Caesar Street, Agricola; Nicholas Narine, 18, also of Caesar Street, Agricola and Warren McKenzie, 22, of Lot 18 Brutus Street, Agricola, were all charged with robbery under arms and felonious wounding of Pierre and Chand.

Millington, Narine and McKenzie were sentenced to eight years for the armed robbery charge and eight years for wounding the duo. The men broke down in tears when the magistrate told them their sentences would run consecutively. Prior to the sentencing, the magistrate asked the defendants if they had anything to say; in response, the men denied committing the offences and proclaimed their innocence.
In passing the sentences, Magistrate Ally-Seepaul said she took into consideration the amount of time the men had been on remand and the fact that they have no previous convictions.
The magistrate also considered the evidence which revealed that they were all part of the crime and that they had aided and abetted each other; the serious nature of the offence, since the lives of the virtual complainants had been threatened; the high value of the items they stole; the brutality and use of a firearm.
The matter was prosecuted by Attorney Nigel Hughes, who was hired by the office of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
On June 17, the magistrate had found two other men not guilty of the crime. They are Premnauth Samaroo and Anthony David. The charges stated that on July 9, 2015 at Montrose, East Coast Demerara, being in the company of three others and being armed with a gun, they robbed the victims of a safe containing US$7,000, five wristwatches, a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone, a wedding ring, four Oakley sunglasses and one brown leather wallet, totalling over $ 2.6M.
They were also accused of feloniously wounding Pierre and her husband and discharging a loaded firearm at Roy Peters, with intent to maim, disable, disfigure or cause him grievous bodily harm. Pierre sustained a broken jaw and other injuries,while her husband received severe injuries to an eye,which he lost as a result.

SOURCE and PHOTOS: Guyana Chronicle

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Woman’s body found floating in Lama Canal

January 1, 2015
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GUYANA - murder-1

Angry brother hold husband for answers – Photo Kaeuteur News

GUYANA – The lifeless body of a 35-year-old woman was pulled from the Lama Canal in an area called the “Blacka” at the entrance of ‘B’ Field Sophia around 08:00 hrs yesterday, two days after she went missing.
The dead woman has been identified as Natasha Jacobs called “Tasha,” a mother of four, of North Ruimveldt, Georgetown.
Police sources confirmed that the body bore several marks of violence.
According to reports, the body was discovered by a child, partially submerged amidst a patch of weeds in the “Blacka,” where the residents would normally swim.
At the scene yesterday, residents had assumed that it was the body of the mother of four since she would normally traverse that area.
This was confirmed when one of Jacobs’ brothers went into the black water and turned over the remains. It was then when investigators realized that they were dealing with a clear case of murder and not a drowning.
Jacobs’s face was partially disfigured and her neck appeared to have been broken.
There were several black and blue marks on her skin.
Upon seeing the injuries, the dead woman’s three brothers rushed to her partner’s home and launched an assault on the man who appeared to be in his early 40s.
For more than a year Jacobs’ partner lived a short distance from where her body was discovered.
He was heard crying for help but the residents too joined in and beat him.
They circled him and the punches he received were countless. They even threw bricks in his face.
“No I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything. Please leave me, please,” the man pleaded.
Police officers were forced to fire a shot to scare the crowd away.
He was eventually taken away in handcuffs.
Natasha Jacobs’ mother, Pamela, told this newspaper that she last saw her daughter alive Saturday night when she left her home.

“Me and she left Festival city and I tell her leh we go to Lamaha Gardens by me but she refused. She said she going by she man and I begged her to come with me but she didn’t. That was the last time I see her,” the mother said.
She explained that her daughter complained to her numerous times of being beaten by the suspect.
“She said that he threatened to kill her. She does come and say that he beat her and all over her skin does have black and blue marks,” the older Jacobs said.
The mother admitted that her daughter was suffering from mental illness.
“When she gave birth to her first child (11 years ago) she started suffering from this sickness. She does be in and out of her senses,” the mother said.
She added that she lost one of her sons, Joshua Jacobs, last year in a freak accident.
The woman said that she now has nine surviving children.
Neighbours of Natasha Jacobs’ partner said that the only bad thing the suspect did was consume alcohol on a daily basis.
“He did not kill her. Her brothers were wrong to that man. When all of them leave her to sleep on the roads, that man picked her up and take her to his home. He is small in size; it is impossible for him to kill that woman,” a neighbour said.
Investigations are ongoing. – Kaeuteur News

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Cane cutter slaughters three – including wife’s lover

December 19, 2014
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Joshua CAN CUTTER

Cane cutter –  Joshua Franklin Photo – Keaituer News

DEAD LOVER drakes

Dead – Dead: Floyd Drakes – Photo Keaituer News

GUYANA – A jealous cane cutter slaughtered his wife’s lover, his mother-in-law and nine-year-old step-daughter after forcing his way into a house at Tuschen New Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo, at around 00:30 hrs yesterday.

The alleged killer, identified as Joshua Franklin, also hacked off his spouse’s left hand at the wrist and chopped her about the body before fleeing the scene.

The woman, Geeta Boodhoo, was admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), where she underwent surgery.

Those killed have been identified as 55-year-old Bibi Zalima Khan; her nine-year-old granddaughter, Ashley Boodhoo, and the alleged lover, Floyd Drakes, 30, all of Tuschen.

According to information received, Joshua Franklin smashed his way through the louvre panes of the house he once lived in with his reputed wife, four children and two step children, before beginning his rampage.

Once inside the house, it is alleged that the cutlass-wielding cane-cutter began to chop his spouse, her mother and her alleged lover who were reportedly consuming alcohol in the hall.

Khan and her granddaughter were reportedly slain in the house, while Drakes was killed in the backyard, next to an outhouse. His body was found some nine hours after police had located the other two victims.

It is believed that the grandmother was murdered in the living room and the nine-year-old met her death in the kitchen. –  Keaituer News

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Sterling Products Ltd stormed by Gunmen , 1 guard kill

December 9, 2014
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Dead security guard Wilfred Steward – Photo Kaietuer News

GUYANA – Gunmen stormed Sterling Products Limited around 18.45 hrs yesterday, killing a security guard and wounding a 41-year-old Indian national before fleeing empty handed from the Providence, East Bank Demerara Company.
Wilfred Stewart, 45, a Beharry Group of Companies security guard, of Graham’s Hall, East Coast Demerara, was shot in the groin and hip as he sat in a security hut, after the gunmen, who reportedly arrived in a silver-grey car, forced their way through the main gate.
Gabriel Dass, a 41-year-old Indian national and a Quality Assurance Chemist, was shot in the left foot by one of the gunmen who had entered the firm’s laboratory. He was treated at the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital.
Relatives of the slain guard said that he fathered two daughters and that his wife is expecting a third child. His mother, Gloria Stewart, said that her son had worked as a guard with the Beharry Group of Companies for over ten years.
Kaieteur News understands that evidence retrieved by Crime Scene ranks suggests that the bandits, numbering about six, were armed with rifles and handguns.
The brazen attack occurred a few metres from the Providence Police Station. However, investigators were reportedly to glean much from employees, who sources said “scattered all about” when the shooting started.
Chief Executive Officer Ramsay Ali told reporters that the bandits arrived by car and that they attempted to force their way into the cashier’s office.
He confirmed that security cameras are installed on the premises.
An eyewitness who narrowly escaped the same fate as the slain guard told Kaieteur News that he and Stewart were in the security hut when a car stopped outside the compound.
He said that “at least ten men,” emerged from the vehicle and barged through the gate.
“This car was packed. It looked like more than 10 men were in the car and they were sitting on each other foot. As soon as this car stopped, all the men run into the compound and started to shoot. When I see them I run and hide in the yard next door,” the eyewitness said.
He added that the bandits saw when he ran and two of the masked men pursued him.
“Them see when I run and two of them run to find me but they didn’t see when I pulled out a mesh on the fence and hide in the next yard so they were searching the compound for me.”
He added that while fleeing he heard the gunmen discharge about three gunshots at Stuart.
“My wife didn’t want me to come to work this morning (yesterday) but I tell her I have to go. This man (Stewart) was suppose to go on leave but he stayed back,” the distraught man said.
Indian national, Gabriel Dass, who has been working with Sterling products Limited for the past three months, said that he was in the laboratory when he heard screams.  He said before he could have peeped out to see what the commotion was about, a masked man pushed the door open and pointed a gun at him.
“We are upstairs, and before I could have reached the door, he run up to me and asked where the money was. I showed him my bag and he just shoot me and walked out. He didn’t check my bag,” the injured man said while receiving treatment late last night at the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital.
When Kaieteur News arrived on the scene several terrified employees were milling around in the compound, while police ranks took statements from eyewitnesses.
The slain guard’s body remained in the security hut for at least two hours before porters from the Lyken Funeral Parlour took the corpse away. The Kaietuer News

CARIBBEAN NEWS

24 year old man gets 83 years for wife’s murder

November 27, 2014
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Michael Anthony Persaud, called “Mikey’, (left) wife Maduri Padumdeo, called ‘Sharda (left ) – Photos Kaeituer News Online

GUYANA – Twenty- four year old, Michael Anthony Persaud, called “Mikey’, of Lot 8 North Sophia, Bel Air, Greater Georgetown, was yesterday sentenced to 83 years in prison for the murder of his reputed wife, Maduri Padumdeo, called ‘Sharda.’
Persaud was accused of killing ‘Sharda,’ at their Lot 8 North Sophia, Bel Air, Greater Georgetown residence on December 23, 2011.
The 19-year old victim, a cane juice vendor and mother of one, was discovered dead with a piece of cable tied tightly around her neck in their home. Her reputed husband was present at the time the discovery was made; he was found lying in the bed next to her corpse.
A post mortem examination conducted on the body of the victim revealed that she died of ligature strangulation. Persaud was later charged for the offence.
After retiring for less than two hours for deliberations, the mixed twelve- member panel of jurors returned to the courtroom of Justice Navindra Singh and announced that they had found Persaud guilty of murder.
Persaud pleaded his innocence in response to the verdict.   “Your honour I am innocent of this crime,” Persaud said, when he was given a chance to speak yesterday. Attorney- at- Law Raymond Ali asked the court to be lenient with his client, but State Prosecutor Judith Gildharie Mursalin asked the court to consider the horrific manner in which the life of a young woman was taken.
“Another young woman has tragically lost her life at the hands of a man; a man who said that he loved her and was supposed to protect her…In today‘s edition of the newspapers it is stated that 10 women have been killed at the hands of their partners this year. The court needs to send a strong message that this will not be condoned,” Prosecutor Mursalin said.
In light of the submission, Justice Singh told the court that it is likely that more years will be added to those found guilty of crimes of such nature.
Before handing down his sentence, the Judge told Persaud that he has deprived his child of both parents and has shown no remorse for his actions. Persaud’s original sentence stood at 60 years; 10 years was added for the evidence of premeditation before the act was committed, another 10 years was added for the cruel manner in which the victim met her demise and six years was added since it was a domestic violence related crime.
However, the judge deducted three years from the sentence for the time Persaud had spent in the prison pending trial, hence the 83-year jail term.
Persaud wept uncontrollably as he was escorted to the holding cell at the High Court in Georgetown. His relatives who were there to support him through his trial also became emotional.
“I was hoping to hold my son in my arms today,” he wailed.
Earlier in the day, while leading his defence, the accused told the court that he had no knowledge of the crime. He said that he loved his wife and would never kill her.  Persaud claimed that he was sodomised by his boss “Kaley” who was also in a relationship with his reputed wife.
“I have a five-year-old son and I would like to be back in his life…” the man said in his defense.  Nine witnesses were called upon to give evidence in the trial.
When the case opened on Monday, State Prosecutor Mursalin told the court that according to the evidence ‘Mikey’ and ‘Sharda’ had been in a relationship for a number of years before the incident; the union bore a son but it was no fairy tale.
The first witness Dataday Doodnauth, who had lived next door to the couple, recalled that she witnessed some of the abuse the victim had suffered at the hands of the accused.
The woman said that she had heard arguing and had seen Michael pulling the girl into their apartment by her hair, hours before she was found dead.  Doonauth said that the victim shouted out for her to call the police, and she went back into her apartment and called the Prashad Nagar Police Outpost.
Her evidence was followed by that of Chandrapaul, called ‘Kaylee’, and ‘Cane Juice Man’, with whom the couple had been employed. The witness told the court that the accused and his reputed wife worked with him selling cane juice at different locations.
The man admitted that he and the victim were in a relationship and that she confided in him about the abuse she suffered at the hands of the accused. Chandrapaul said that she had showed him marks on her body and he had advised her to make a report to the police.
Chandrapaul said that the night before the incident he and the couple had attended a wake together but his vehicle broke down forcing them to spend a night in a hotel. The witness said that he had dropped the couple off at their home the next morning and made arrangements to meet them later that day but they never turned up.
Police Witness, Detective Constable Jason Kyte, told the court that in his caution statement, the accused said that Sharda told him that she was leaving him for her boss (Chandrapaul ) but he refused to accept it and  padlocked the door with the woman inside, restraining her from  leaving the apartment.
The officer said the accused told investigators that he then went back into the apartment through a window, where he stayed with his wife until the next day.
The woman was later discovered lying naked and motionless on the bed with a wire wrapped around her neck. The accused was lying next to her; he appeared be sleeping. Graphic images (photographs) of the crime scene were tendered into evidence and shown to the members of the jury. The scissors and a piece of wire which were recovered at the crime scene were also tendered as evidence. – The Kaietuer News Online

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Missing epileptic son causes Mother fears for the worse

November 25, 2014
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Tregon Bremner

Tregon Bremner – Photo Kaietuer Online

GUYANA  – It has been five days since 20-year-old Tregon Bremner, of Lot 408 West Ruimveldt, Georgetown, has been missing. Despite efforts of concerned relatives and members of the Guyana Police Force to locate him, there is still no sign.
Cindy Brisport, the mother of the missing 20-year-old, has spoken of her unrelenting anguish since she last saw her son. Her fears for his wellbeing are increasing.
Brisport, 38, said that relentless efforts to locate Bremner, who had been diagnosed with epilepsy at a tender age, have proven futile. She and her family are extremely worried about him. Brisport has made an emotional plea for help to locate her son.
The devastated woman, who visited Kaieteur News yesterday, recalled that her son was last seen on November 20 (last Thursday). According to her, her house was flooded and her son Bremner had pitched in on the cleaning exercise.
She said it was around 15:00 hours that she noticed that he was missing so she asked his sister if she had seen him but she hadn’t. Checks around the house proved that Bremner was nowhere there. His mother said that they immediately launched a search in the neighbourhood for him. But no one saw the 20-year-old.
Brisport said that she received word from an acquaintance that her son was spotted at a Charlestown shop called “Pet Boy” but the man assumed that Bremner was with someone.
She said that another person told her that they saw him at the Square of the Revolution walking around in the pools of water that had accumulated after the rains but a search in that area too did not help to locate him.
Distressed, the mother said that this is the first time that her 20-year-old has wandered for such a long time. She added that once, 12 years ago, he was lost but they had located him the said night.
The mother is lamenting that her son may be confused. She is extremely concerned over what he is eating and doing. “He deh bare foot. He can answer he name and so but he can’t tell you where he lives,” she divulged.
Brisport recounted that they have combed through Queenstown, Alberttown, D’Urban Backlands and other city regions in a desperate bid to locate him. She said the only place they haven’t searched is on the East Coast and East Bank areas.
“I ain’t sleeping and I barely eating. I ain’t focusing. I don’t know what he doing, if he sit down or if he walking around or what he doing,” the woman stressed. Bremner, she said, was last seen wearing a grey vest and black trunks.
A report has since been lodged at the West Ruimveldt Police Outpost.
The woman is pleading with public spirited citizens to help her find her son. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Tregon Bremner is asked to contact the nearest police station or his mother on telephone 669-9112 or brother, Trevor Bremner on 6020413. – The Kaietuer News

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Two arrested for drinking partners death…Woman allegedly confesses to stabbing victim

August 27, 2014
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Dead: Bharrat Sugrim – photo Kaietuer  News

KON – GUYANA – A Cummings Lodge, East Coast Demerara (ECD) woman has allegedly confessed to the murder of 37-year-old Bharrat Sugrim,whose lifeless body was found with a stab wound to his heart, at the back of her two-bedroom house on Sunday.
The woman and her reputed husband were taken into police custody after the body of the Better Hope, ECD man was discovered by neighbours lying motionless on the muddy ground, next to the couple’s outhouse.
According to the police, the woman claimed that she and her husband got into a heated argument which eventually led to a fight, and Sugrim, who acted as a peacemaker, was wounded in the process.
She further claimed that the incident occurred on the verandah of her Lot 355 South Cummings Lodge home, and the wounded man went to use the outhouse where he eventually collapsed.
The police source said that the woman would most likely be charged with Sugrim’s murder, while her husband of nine years will be charged with violent behaviour.
“Once the PM (post mortem) is done tomorrow (today) a file will be sent to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) for advice,” the police source said.
When this newspaper visited the area on Monday, the couple’s neighbours claimed that they consume alcohol daily and would usually attack each other.
“This is normal. They drink, dance and cuss up each other. They are not living a nice life at all. Every day, the two of them are drunk. The husband does security work when he feels like and the wife does domestic work,” one neighbour had said.
She added that she was watching television when she heard a loud noise but did not pay much attention, since this is common occurrence. “I just ignored them because when you watch over there, the man does cuss you up.”
The neighbour said that several hours after she heard a loud commotion, she noticed the police in the couple’s yard with persons crying and shouting, “Ow, you kill my brother, you kill he.”
Another neighbour said that she heard someone groaning in the couple’s outhouse, and then she heard one of the suspects crying and after sometime she saw the police arrive.
The mother of the detained man told Kaieteur News that she was told that her son and his wife were fighting and Sugrim, who tried to separate them, was stabbed.
She further explained that based on what she was told; the man was stabbed in the couple’s verandah, but collapsed near the outhouse, after going there to relieve himself.
“My son’s wife drinks a lot every day. They have two children together and I take care of them. If the children have money she would take it away and buy rum. She stabbed my son countless times and he still won’t leave her,” the woman claimed.
Investigations are ongoing.

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Eighty murders in only seven months as armed robberies up by 16 percent in Guyana

August 11, 2014
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Ashmini-Hariram-Ashmini Hariram – Photo Kaietuer News 

KN – GUYANA – Eighty people have been murdered within the first seven months of this year and there have been 679 reported armed robberies, but police say that “total serious crimes” have decreased during this period.
According to statistics released by the Guyana Police Force, 80 murders were recorded between January and the end of July 2014, in comparison to 73 murders for the same period in 2013, which is an increase of 10 percent.
Three were execution-type murders, 16 occurred during robberies, 21 were domestic-related, 17 were of the disorderly type and 23 are so far, undetermined.
At the end of July 2014, robbery under arms had increased by 16 percent, with police receiving 679 reports, compared with 585 for the same period in 2013.
Recent police reports have showed a disturbing rise in the use of firearms during robberies, and this remained the case with yesterday’s release.
“The police statistics indicate a 27 percent in the number of robberies involving the use of firearms; and a two percent decrease in armed robberies where instruments other than firearms were used by the perpetrators,” the Public Relations Department said.
But the Force also recorded an eight percent drop in serious crimes between January to July, 2014, as against the corresponding period in 2013.
Police received 2,134 reports of serious crimes between January 01 and July 31, 2014, compared with 2,317 for the same period in 2013.
Police also reported an increase in road fatalities during the past seven months, with 67 road deaths from 61 accidents, as against 61 fatalities from 58 accidents for the same period in 2013.
Pedestrians have been the main road users affected with 28 such persons having lost their lives at the end of July 2014. In addition, eight motor cyclists, 14 pedal cyclists, six drivers and 11persons travelling in motor vehicles also lost their lives.
Speeding was the cause of 37 of the 61 fatal accidents recorded at the end of July 2014.
Traffic enforcement by the police resulted in 43,487 cases being made against errant motorists unto the end of July 2014. Of this total, 11,637 cases were for speeding.
To date, eight persons have lost their lives from seven accidents on the roads for the month of August 2014.

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Mother and son held at Guyana airport with cocaine

July 10, 2014
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drug ttrafficking

JO – GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jul 9, CMC — A mother and a Canadian-born son are due to appear in court later this week after they were held at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport on Tuesday with a large quantity of cocaine.

Police said that the duo was heading to Canada when the 10,53 kilogrammes of cocaine were found by members of the Police Narcotics Branch during a routine search of luggage.

The police said the drugs were found in a false bottom of their suitcases. They gave no monetary value of the drugs.

The drug bust comes two days after police discovered a quantity of cocaine in ceramic ornaments at the airport during routine searches of a shipment on a cargo plane destined for Ireland.

Two people — Belinda Williams, 29 and Gordon Plass, 43, — have since been remanded into custody after making their first court appearance on Tuesday.

CARIBBEAN NEWS

Shantytowns in Haiti gets hit hard Virus

July 10, 2014
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In this June 30, 2014, photo, Delimene Saint Lise holds her 2-month-old daughter Gisline inside their tent home. (AP photo)

AP – PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Within a dense cluster of flimsy shacks made mostly of plastic tarp and wooden planks, a young mother cradles her sick, whimpering toddler while trying to guard against a fierce tropical sun.

Delimene Saint Lise says she’s doing her best to comfort her 2-year-old daughter and control her spiking fever during what has quickly become a familiar agony in their makeshift community of shanties by a trash-clogged canal in the Haitian capital.

“For the last three days, her body gets very hot and she’s hurting all over,” Saint Lise said as she sat on a mattress inside their sweltering home with flapping plastic walls in the capital’s dusty Delmas section. “I know because I had this awful illness before her.”

This latest scourge in Haiti is chikungunya. It’s a rarely fatal but intensely painful mosquito-borne virus that has spread rapidly through the Caribbean and parts of Latin America after local transmission first started in tiny French St. Martin late last year, likely brought in by an infected air traveller.

Haiti is proving to be particularly vulnerable because so many people live like Saint Lise and her neighbours, packed together in rickety housing with dismal sanitation and surrounded by ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry the illness.

“Chikungunya has been merciless in Haiti. Lack of basic infrastructure, poor mosquito control measures, and deep social and economic disparities hampered prevention and treatment efforts,” says a new report on Haiti’s epidemic by the Igarape Institute, a Brazil-based think tank.

Since the virus was first documented in Haiti in May, there have been nearly 40,000 suspected cases seen by health workers, the Pan American Health Organization says. The only places with higher numbers are the neighbouring Dominican Republic and Guadaloupe.

But there are many signs that the actual number is far higher in Haiti, a country of 10 million people that struggles with many burdens, from crushing poverty, lack of access to clean water and the fact that some 146,000 people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake still live in makeshift homes.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control is now assisting Haiti’s health ministry to confirm new cases. But statistics are notoriously unreliable in Haiti, and public health experts say the number of people with the illness is unknown. Many poor Haitians don’t bother seeking care at clinics so their cases go unrecorded, said Dr Gregory Jerome of Zanmi Lasante, the Haitian program of the Boston-based non-profit organization Partners in Health.

It’s clear the “attack rate of this infection is very high all over the country,” Jerome said. And it’s not just impoverished districts. People in wealthier areas such as the tree-lined Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville and the scenic southern coastal town of Jacmel are complaining of cases.

Instances of local transmission have been reported in about 20 nations or territories in the region, from the Virgin Islands, Dominica, Martinique and Puerto Rico to El Salvador in Central America and French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname on the northern shoulder of South America.

In Haiti, it’s gotten so bad so quickly that many people are resigned to catching the virus known in Creole as “kaze le zo,” or “breaking your bones,” for joint pain so intense some patients can barely walk or use their fingers for days. There is no vaccine and the only treatment is basic medication for the pain and fluid replacement for dehydration.

Painful symptoms of chikungunya generally dissipate within a week and people develop immunity after getting infected. But some patients can develop severe and even life-threatening complications including respiratory failure. It can also contribute to the deaths of people with underlying health issues. Just last week, former Haitian President Leslie Manigat died after a long period of illness and a deputy secretary of his political party said his condition might have been complicated by a recent bout with the virus.

Outbreaks of chikungunya have long made people miserable in Africa and Asia. In the Western Hemisphere, where the illness is new and advancing rapidly, health officials are working to educate the public and knock down the mosquito population. U.S. states are warily monitoring “imported” cases among residents who recently traveled to the Caribbean and were bitten by an infected mosquito.

Haiti’s government has stepped up fumigation and education campaigns. Public service announcements about the illness appear regularly on radio and TV stations broadcasting World Cup games. Officials also recently distributed free pain-relief medicine at public health facilities, especially because there were signs of predatory price increases by pharmacies and freelance pill vendors.

But Dr. Gretta Lataillade Roy, head of a small public clinic in Delmas who was ill with the virus last month, said the free pain-relief medication ran out at her facility within 48 hours as a surge of patients showed up. Most people with the virus are now opting to suffer at home, she said, and high prices for acetaminophen are back.

Many health clinic workers have been falling ill with chikungunya after being bitten by infected mosquitoes, resulting in temporary staff shortages.

Although other mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue exist in Haiti, simple precautions to deter bites are often not taken because many people can’t afford bug repellant and window screens. The Igarape group’s recent survey of 2,807 randomly sampled households suggested that treated mosquito nets, another recommended precaution, are seldom used.

Complicating matters, nearly one in five respondents told researchers they believe rumors that chikungunya was intentionally brought to Haiti by businessmen as a way to make money or possibly as a form of social and political control.

“There are some difficulties in many parts of the population to accept the reality that the virus is transmitted by a vector,” said Dr. Jean-Luc Poncelete, the Pan American Health Organization’s representative in Haiti.

In Delmas, Saint Lise and her neighbours say they’ve heard on the radio that mosquitoes spread the strange virus. But they say they are sceptical in part because the government has not been fumigating around their camp.

“They say it’s the mosquitoes doing this,” said Eliamese Derisier, whose 6-month-old son is struggling with the virus in a tent next door to Saint Lise’s family. “But I’m not sure if I believe them.”

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