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US will not issue travel advisory based on murder of yachtie – US Ambassador

US will not issue travel advisory based on murder of yachtie – US Ambassador

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A new ambassador has been appointed to represent the interests of the United States government in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

Ambassador Linda Taglialatela, who is based in Barbados, took up her official duties on January 28, and has already paid a visit to all of the countries that her post covers.{{more}}

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT last Wednesday – on her first trip to St Vincent and the Grenadines – Taglialatela said that she is “truly honoured” to have been selected for the prestigious position.

“I am very honoured and feel very privileged to have been President Obama’s representative to be the ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, including St Vincent and the Grenadines,” she enthused.

“It’s not something that I ever spent a lot of time thinking about, but when the opportunity came, I was truly honoured to be selected.”

During the interview, Taglialatela wasted no time weighing in on several current matters pertaining to SVG, which included the recently concluded general elections, the murder of a German yachtie and the first confirmed case of Zika in Union Island.

The Ambassador said that the US government, which has already congratulated Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on winning the December 2015 general elections, is well aware of the Opposition’s claim that the election was not “free and fair”.

Taglialatela pointed out that among the teams that travelled to SVG to observe the elections, there was one from CARICOM – which found no evidence of any voting irregularities.

“The United States is in no position to make comment; we were not here as monitors, but we believe in what CARICOM’s team said,” she asserted.

With regard to SVG being placed on the US travel advisory list after recording its first Zika case, the ambassador pointed out that the travel advisory is simply meant to provide persons with a warning.

She was, however, quick to point out that – according to information she has received – the spread of the virus throughout the region has “not really affected tourism”.

Taglialatela further noted that the US Centre for Disease Control, along with the Pan American Health Organization, has been tracking and monitoring the situation throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas.

“I also understand that there are some universities in the United States that are looking to develop a vaccine based on what they know… It’s more conclusive than not, but it’s not conclusive that Zika causes abnormalities in pregnancies. My last conversation with a representative from CDC said that they were still exploring it… but we’re just warning travellers of the effect.”

The ambassador said that the US will continue to provide technical support, information and research, as it becomes available.

“We will coordinate more with each of the nations in the Caribbean to make sure that they have the latest information, as well as the latest information that we have about prevention and possible vaccines.”

In regard to the German yachtie who was murdered by masked gunmen last week Friday at Wallilabou Bay, the ambassador assured that a travel warning would not be issued based on this tragic incident.

“One incident would not put St Vincent or any country on a travel advisory. If there was a trend that we were able to detect that there was a rise in crime – particularly to tourists – we would put out an advisory. But one incident would not cause us to make comment about crime in a particular area.”

Ambassador Taglialatela grew up in upstate New York and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Among other posts, she has worked as a Foreign Service officer within the State Department and has worked at the US embassy in Bayern, Switzerland.

She also recalled that after accepting an invitation to become an ambassador, she went through a “very long and arduous” training programme.

As well as Barbados, the ambassador also represents the US government in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In each of the islands, the ambassador has met with heads of governments and heads of states, to present them with her credentials and the letter of recall of her predecessor – who in this case was former ambassador Larry Palmer. (JSV)

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