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The party in Martinique extends into Ash Wednesday… and beyond!

mcarnivalWhile the rest of the Caribbean recovers from Carnival celebrations on Ash Wednesday, the party in Martinique continues with a bonus day of revelry carried out annually under the theme: “Rejoice Today, Repent Tomorrow.”  The bonus day marks the climax of Martinique Carnival with more than 30,000 revelers taking to the streets of the capital city, Fort-de-France, to mourn the symbolic death of King Carnival, known as Vaval. 

The local media reports death notices in honor of Vaval, while festivities take place as his funeral pyre is built. As dusk falls, Vaval’s funeral flames light up the sky.  The party, an arousing explosion of pulsating rhythms, exotic dance, mirth and rum, peaks as Vaval is consigned to the fire.  Only when the flames die down does a calm settle over the masses. 

President Barack ObamaUnited States President Barack Obama has offered a lifeline to illegal Caribbean immigrants, urging the country’s Congress to work with him on “comprehensive” immigration reform. In his election-year State of the Union address delivered last month, Obama said he believed “as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration.

“We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now,” he said. “But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away,” he added.

/ibrahim-kareemA United States federal judge has sentenced to life in prison a Trinidadian man who was convicted of plotting to blow up fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York several years ago.

“No one can doubt the seriousness of this crime,” said Judge Dora L. Irizarry of U.S. Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York, who last month compared the bomb plot to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. as she handed down the maximum sentence to Kareem Ibrahim, 66.

Clinton_HillaryOver the last year, the Department of State has been committed to improving the visa process, decreasing interview wait times in key tourism markets such as Brazil and China and increasing the number of visas we issue – without compromising border security.

We are excited to take these efforts even further in support of the President’s travel and tourism initiatives, opening the door to new jobs and exports.  More international visitors to America means more revenue for our cities and states, and we are making it easier for tourists from other countries to experience all that America has to offer.