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CELL research and therapy has the potential to jump start a more than
$100 million medical tourism industry, according to the government’s
task force, which delivered its verdict on the country’s proposed plunge
into the controversial science yesterday.
In a presentation
to Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez, the group outlawed the use of
embryonic cells to create new stem cells and reproductive cloning, and
gave recommendations on how the country could maximise its potential to
advance global medical research.
the therapy’s profound implications, the committee called for an
overhaul of existing legislation concerning medical tourism, and
widespread education and consultation to ensure that decision makers are
well-versed with the importance of the groundbreaking science and
related ethical issues.
Arthur Porter, who led the special research team, said: “We put
together the framework for stem cell work to be carried out to the
benefit of Bahamians in an ethical way and to support the potential for a
medical tourism industry, and we delved into the specifics of what can
be done and what should not be done.”
we don’t want to do is make it an open season for anybody who wants to
do anything. What we want to do is we want to have that reputable high
class science and therapy can be done here under the right sort of
regulations and the right sort of ethics control because not only are
you controlling it for the jurisdiction and the reputation of the
jurisdiction also frankly the sophisticated person won’t go to a place
that is uncertain so it’s much better that we start off right the first
Gomez announced the task force last month, giving the panel of experts
60 days to study stem cell research from an ethical and medical point of
view before delivering a final report.
force members include: Dr Robin Roberts, Rev Angela Palacious, Dr Paul
Ward, Dr Barrett McCartney, Dr Indira Martin, Dr Wesley Francis, Dr Glen
Beneby, Dr Duane Sands and Mrs Michelle Pindling-Sands.
cells are undifferentiated cells that have the capacity to renew
themselves and to differentiate into various cell types – such as blood,
muscle, and nerve cells. Stem cells are divided into two categories –
embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.
Porter said: “Probably the most challenging ethical reasons [against
the use of embryonic cells] are around the disruption of a blastocyst to
create new stem cell lines, that was something that we felt as a group
was difficult for us to overcome especially within this jurisdiction,
and within the religious issues that we have here.”
existing stem cell lines that may have been generated elsewhere over
time that under the right conditions and the right ethical supervision
should be allowed but again the creation of new stem cell lines in this
country should not be permitted.”
blastocyst is an embryo that has developed for five to six days after
fertilisation. The committee approved the use of adult stem cells, said
Dr Porter, who also noted that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or
Medicine was awarded for discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed
to become pluripotent, which characterizes the potential of a cell to
differentiate into different cells.
Porter said: “The second and perhaps more scientifically practical is
that people are moving away from embryonic stem cells and in fact much
of the research now is on adult stem cells or adult stem cells which are
being transformed to be able to act in ways pluripotent stem cells
needs to go back and take stem cells out of an embryo are becoming less
and less. What we looked at for The Bahamas is to be future ready, to
not look to what other countries have done but let’s create an
environment so that we can capture the future.
added: “We believe over the next ten years that we are going to see a
renaissance in the use of this therapy and that we are always going to
have to be looking forward and asking ourselves the question: ‘Is this
new development okay?’ ‘is that new development all right?’”
committee also approved the use of umbilical cord blood, which Dr
Porter said has been used globally for over 15 years, and the use of
somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is a type of technique in which
adult stem cells are encouraged to behave as early stem cells.
Porter said: “We are on the frontiers of new science so the appropriate
clinical trials, the appropriate committees, the appropriate ethics
support, should be given to the use of these areas.”
purveyors of stem cell work, the medical practitioners, research
scientists, foster the skills necessary to perform good clinical trials.
It is important whenever new therapies are introduced that we have the
right practitioners, the right scientists, and the right facilities to
be able to ensure quality use,” he said
According to Dr Porter, the group predicts a renaissance in use of stem cell therapy over the next ten years.
that medical tourism was a “several billion” dollar industry, Dr Porter
said the Bahamas’ market could earn more than a hundred million dollars
per year. He also noted trickle down benefits for physicians, labs and
the wider economy.
Sands said: “This is a rapidly developing, rapidly evolving field,
there are many countries in the world that have embraced medical tourism
and as such have tried desperately to ensure that the process of
approval, of ratification, of consideration of new projects, is done in a
timely fashion. Similarly efforts have been made to ensure that
phenomenal scrutiny of the proposed projects, the participants et
cetera, is carefully done.”
added: “So we need to ensure that the legislation in The Bahamas is
robust enough to protect the integrity and reputation of this country,
while at the same time promoting good science and this is an ongoing
process so we need to make sure that the laws are constantly keeping up
with what is happening on the ground.”
Gomez said he plans to present the stem cell report to Cabinet early
next year. He added that the report will affect possible future
legislation and the development of guidelines for the use of stem cell
therapy in the country.
• Council of Ministers Vice President Marino Murillo Jorge, head of
the Policy Guidelines Implementation Permanent Commission, reports to National
O. Fonticoba Gener
DURING the last period between sessions of the Cuban Parliament,
the process of implementation of Policy Guidelines approved by the 6th Party
Congress has progressed at a satisfactory pace, with new measures implemented to
update the country’s socioeconomic model and others, already in place, being
This was the essence of the report presented by Council of
Ministers Vice President Marino Murillo Jorge, head of the Policy Guidelines
Implementation Permanent Commission, during the final plenary session of the 7th
In a summary of progress made in the implementation process, he
said, "The tasks which the Commission, national bodies and entities, local
governments and enterprises must complete in 2013 and 2014 will be the most
complex, those of greatest importance and impact on the updating of our economic
model and on society as a whole."
Given their nature and scope, he said, these tasks must be studied
carefully, in order to adopt the best decisions for the country, with the
Murillo reported that the drafting of the theoretical conception
of Cuba’s economic model is well underway. This document will guide the work of
all bodies involved in the nation’s development.
He said that also advancing is the establishment of fundamentals
for the country’s long-term Economic and Social Development Program, which
include the definition of indicators to be used to evaluate the model’s
performance and, above all, to precisely determine goals to be met.
Murillo indicated that a timeline is being prepared for the
implementation of macro-economic policies, included among the most important are
a new methodology to determine wholesale and retail prices; monetary policy
measures to be adopted to control the circulation of money; and procedures for
financial planning, as tools to better coordinate macro-economic policy, the
Economic Plan and State Budget.
Murillo made special mention of the new Tax System Law No. 113,
which will go into effect in January, and highlighted the fact that regulations
were included, which is not the case with the current, soon to be replaced,
While the Tax System Law is the highest authority, establishing
the principles and taxable bases, he said, the Regulations detail procedures and
norms governing the law’s application, which can be changed within the
parameters established, without having to propose changes to the general
Murillo reported that work is currently being done on the design
of the first 230 non-agricultural cooperatives which will open the gradual,
experimental process of establishing this new form of economic activity. The
legal framework for non-agricultural cooperatives went into effect December 11.
MORE AUTONOMY FOR ENTERPRISES
According to Murillo Jorge, a number of experimental changes in
the functioning of enterprises will begin January 1, directed at expanding
autonomy and authority in the economic and financial management of enterprises.
This process is being undertaken to advance in the construction of
a working model of the socialist state enterprise and to support macro-economic
policies, among others approved.
The objectives of this process are the re-capitalization of
enterprises; increased earnings to make possible the financing of increased
wages for workers; the creation of a wholesale market and the reconciliation of
costs which the Cuban economy can sustain with their value on the international
The policy to be followed in the implementation of these changes,
he said, has been approved and work is underway on the legal framework.
The experiment will expand the context in which enterprises
function and, on a small scale, allow for trying out needed changes. The process
of full implementation will begin with the consolidated sugar group AzCuba, and
that of the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries, BioCubaFarma, as
well as the state shrimp farming enterprise.
Murillo explained that the experiment will additionally include
limited changes for other enterprises, selected because of their importance to
the country’s economic development. These will, for example, allow for the sale
of excess production available after state contracts have been fulfilled, at
OTHER STEPS FORWARD
As part of his report to deputies, Murillo Jorge addressed the
approval process underway of a proposal to make state entities’ social
objectives more flexible, with the goal of allowing such institutions to more
fully develop their potential.
This proposal would allow for the adoption of measures such as the
establishment of the principal social objective by the body or institution
creating the entity, with no reference to the currency in which it will operate.
Another option would be permitting the director of an enterprise or entity to
make decisions about secondary activities, related to the social objective.
Murillo Jorge likewise emphasized the importance of studies being
done on the development of linked production sequences, in an effort to increase
productivity and contribute to a better structural balance within the economy.
These efforts are directed toward the fulfillment of Guidelines No. 7, 89, 103,
129, 132, 136, 185, 217 and 219.
He also reported that work continues to facilitate
self-employment. Among the measures are the inclusion of new activities (such as
real estate agent, measurement instrument repairer and antique dealer), the
renewed granting of licenses for activities previously suspended, as well as a
new regulation which defines the scope of all types of approved work.
The policy which governs the awarding of subsidies to individuals
for home construction, Murillo explained, has also been updated, with more
financing available if the dwelling is to be built in a seismic zone; for
coverage of transportation costs of building materials and for costs associated
with technical documentation or for long-term leasing of land rights. New
categories of persons eligible for subsidies were also established, including
renters or persons living in rented rooms. Subsidies will also be available for
the repair of leaks and plumbing problems.
IMPROVING GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION
The experience of Artemisa and Mayabeque provinces, involved in an
innovative project to perfect their administrative systems and leadership
bodies, was also discussed during the National Assembly plenary session.
Second in charge of the Permanent Commission, General Leonardo
Andollo, emphasized the importance of Decree No. 301, which defines state
functions to be assumed by national state administrative bodies and entities
with respect to provincial authorities in the two provinces.
"This decree provides the legal framework allowing the experiment
to operate on an institutional foundation in which the delegation of authority
and attributes at the different levels are clearly defined."
"No antecedent to this document exists and it is an important
foundation for the future, since today there is no such regulation which defines
precisely and comprehensively, the procedures involved."
He explained that as part of the project, in Güines municipality,
Mayabeque, an effort is being made to consolidate, in a single building, all
administrative services the population requires. Plans include the creation of a
single administration and shared logistical support, for example, in the area of
data and telecommunications, while studies continue to guide improvement of the
Andollo reported that regulations for Government Information
Councils and Technical Committees in the two provinces have been approved and
that the process of integrating all higher education centers is underway there,
as well as in the Isle of Youth.
One important accomplishment of the experimental project, he said,
is that throughout the process thus far, there has been no administrative
instability, significant when taking into consideration that administrative
structures in each of the two provinces have been staffed with 26% of the
original personnel and the principal indicators of development have been
maintained at levels similar to those of other provinces.
Despite the progress made, Andollo indicated that difficulties
persist. Among these are limitations on efforts to concentrate leadership bodies
in the smallest number of locations possible and the insufficient availability
of supplies needed by leadership bodies and service providers.
The first time I met Hugo Chavez was at the United Nations in New
York in January 2003. He asked me my name, as if we were chatting
between friends just getting to know each other. When I told him “Eva”,
he responded “Eva, really?”[i]
“Yes, Eva”, I said. “My brother is named Adan”, he said, adding, “My
mother wanted me to be a girl so that she could call me Eva, and look, I
appeared!” He smiled and laughed with that laugh of his, so pure and
sincere it’s contagious to all those near.
He appeared. Chavez, who even underestimated himself.
This man appeared, larger than life, with an immense heart full of his people, pueblo, beating with homeland, patria. A human being appeared, with a great capacity to persist and stand defiantly in the face of the most powerful obstacles.
Hugo Chavez dreamed the impossible and achieved it. He assumed
responsibility for the grandiose and difficult tasks that remained
undone from the time of independence, those that Simon Bolivar couldn’t
attain due to the adverse forces against him. Chavez fulfilled those
goals, turning them into reality. The Bolivarian Revolution, the
recovery of Venezuelan dignity, social justice, the visibility and power
of the people, Latin American integration, national and regional
sovereignty, true independence, the realization of the dream of the Patria Grande, and much, much more. These are Chavez’s achievements, the man who appeared just like that.
There are millions of people around the world who are inspired by
Hugo Chavez. Chavez raises his voice without trembling before the most
powerful, he says the truth – what others are afraid of saying –, he
kneels before no one, he walks with firm dignity, head held high, with
the people, el pueblo, guiding him and a dream of a prosperous,
just and fulfilled nation. Chavez has given us the collective strength
to fight inequality, injustice, to build nations and to believe that a
better world isn’t just a dream, it’s an achievable reality.
Chavez, a man who could spend time in the company of the world’s
richest and most powerful, prefers to be with those most in need,
feeling their pain, embracing them and finding ways to improve their
Chavez once told us a story, or told it many times as he often does.
He was driving in his motorcade, out in the Venezuelan plains, los llanos, on
those long roads that seem to continue infinitely. A dog suddenly
appeared at the side of the road, limping with a wounded leg. Chavez
ordered the motorcade to stop and went out to get the dog. He hugged the
wounded animal, saying it had to be taken to the vet. “How can we leave
it here alone and wounded”, he asked. “It’s a being, it’s a life, it
needs to be cared for”, he said, demonstrating his sensitivity. “How can
we call ourselves socialists without the lives of others mattering? We
need to love, we need to care for all, including animals, which are
innocent beings. We can turn our backs on no one”, he recalled.
When he told that story I cried. I cried because of my love for
animals and the widespread mistreatment they suffer, and how necessary
it was for someone like him, Chavez, to say something like that to
awaken consciousness about the need to care for those who share our
planet. But I also cried because Chavez confirmed something in that
moment that I already knew, something I felt in my heart, but was unsure
of in my mind. Chavez confirmed his simplicity, his sensitivity and his
capacity to love. He confirmed he is a man whose heart feels pain when
he sees a wounded animal. A man who not only feels, but acts. That’s who
When Chavez assumed the presidency of Venezuela, the country was
limping. He had seen its wounds and knew that he had to do all he could
to help. He took Venezuela into his arms, embracing it closely, soothing
and seeking how to make it better. He gave everything he had in him -
his sweat, soul, strength, energy, intelligence and love – to change
Venezuela with dignity, growth, sovereignty, and nation-building. He
looked after it day and night, never leaving it alone. He found its
beauty, its strength, its potential and its greatness. He helped it to
grow strong, beautiful, visible and happy. He led its rebirth and filled
its pulse with force and passion, with people’s power and a dignified
Chavez has given everything he has and asked for nothing in return.
Today, Venezuela grows and flourishes, thanks to his commitment and
vision, thanks to his dedication and determination, thanks to his love.
Thank goodness you appeared, Chavez.
Eva Golinger is an investigative journalist and writer on
Venezuelan affairs, and author of ‘The Chavez Code’ (2006) among other
titles. This article was translated by Ewan Robertson and edited by Eva
Golinger. It first appeared in Spanish on RT.
Haiti had two unfinished universal and national revolutions. The one of
1804 destroyed for itself and for humanity the gangrene of slavery of
man by man and the revolution of 1986, which brought an end for itself
and also for humanity the stronghold of the dictators. After 1986, the
non-violent mass movement that forced the departure of Duvalier has
educated those in the Philippines, Poland and Nicaragua. It continues to
educate today in the Arab world, where Tunisia gave the signal to
eradicate almost all Arab dictators, while the Syrian people today
continue to fight to unseat their dictator.
However, after 1804 and twenty five years after the end of the Duvalier
era, Haiti is still a flop, to use the language of a colleague who has
nostalgia for a former Port-au-Prince.
"The former Champ de Mars, the place of choice for families to relax and
stroll, this place of my youth when I studied every night for years ...
is no more. It is handed over to dealers (badly) boucanés, to car
scrubbers, to thieves and phone robbers, it is hard not to remember the
effective management of the city by the mayor Franck Romain in the early
1980s during the Duvalier era.”
In an essay published recently in Caribbean News Now and reproduced in
the Nassau Guardian, “Haiti’s failed 25 years experience with
democracy,” I decried the failure of the democratic era in Haiti. The
achievements of the Revolution of 1986 were as short-lived as the
Revolution of 1804, when the revolutionary experience ended in 1806
after the assassination of its founder, Jean Jacques Dessalines.
The signatories of the Act of Independence of 1804 did not agree to
build a nation that would be hospitable to all. Those who had in mind to
remove the settlers to settle themselves had the upper hand in 1806.
They built a Haiti close to their vision. They used education or the non
access to education as a barrier to prevent the masses from getting
into the path of civilization.
The mass of slaves who took refuge in the hills of Haiti in 1804 is now,
two hundred years later, the peasants, uneducated and without economic
support from the state of Haiti. Now they rush to the gates of the
capital and the provincial towns, occupying any empty space and
compromising any planned organized urban development.
The Revolution of 1986, with the new 1987 Constitution, should have put
Haiti on the true course. It was different. The organic institutions of
Haiti such as the Catholic Church, the army, the Voodoo and even the
press have failed the country.
First of all, the army seized the Revolution, not to bring Haiti to
where milk and honey abound but into anarchy and a democratic spree,
with people who could neither read nor write and could not understand
that with rights also come responsibilities. Neo-liberalism, with its
doctrine that growth can happen without personal wealth for all, was
installed as the ruler of the economic game. The local economy, under
immeasurable international influences, soon collapsed under a blitz from
the Americans, the Chinese and now the Dominicans. Most of the local
industries were closed, to be relocated in the Dominican Republic. The
Haitian rice industry, freshly rebuilt by Taiwan, was destroyed by
imported rice from Arkansas.
The Catholic Church, Breton in its origin that had accompanied the young
Haiti in 1860 to the table where the bread of education and training
was delivered in the towns, is now in the hands of the native clergy. It
should have extended to the rural counties the mission of continuing
the civilizing action started by the Breton clergy.
Instead it gave a rather poisoned apple, packaged with liberation
theology and the venom of the social power of dissension, hatred of one
against other and a race to the bottom, where the sense of ethics, lack
of patriotism, organized theft of state assets are now the rule of the
game. From the kingdom of meritocracy we went to the realm of the
mediocrity of meritocracy. The government, which includes the executive,
the judiciary, the legislature and the public service, confuses the
brazen search of self-interest to service to the public good.
Voodoo, still underground, has not yet found its St Patrick to transform
this rich cultural heritage into a national and universal mythology to
enrich the imagination of young Haitians, as would be the world's youth,
and as the Iliad and the Odyssey did by transforming those seeking
great human values that are called courage, resilience, friendliness and
brotherhood and joie de vivre.
And the people who believe in voodoo as an act of faith would be endowed
with true antidotes that are called education, health, and training and
economic development, freeing the devotees from the opium of the
Finally, the press has become the country's image, a press
bidonvillisée, rising one above the other, not to help each other to go
higher but following the experience of Rwanda, where violence has led an
entire nation to tear each other apart without even asking the question
This essay is not part of a series to lament once more about the
troubles and the misfortunes of Haiti. It is rather a call to action for
Haiti to return to its civilizing mission of yesteryear. It seeks men
and women who want to add value in building a Haiti fit for Toussaint
Louverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe. A Haiti that
cares first for those most in need of relief and support: the peasant
masses confused and uneducated.
They are now at the door of the cities in rags and tatters,
under-capitalized by neo-liberalism, recklessness national governments,
and the revenge of nature that was not protected by a benevolent hand.
Uneducated and untrained, they doubt even their own humanity as they
seek shelter anywhere in defiance of the human sense of
I propose that:
• The ONI (the Office of National Identification) should be found in all
communal sections providing to each farmer a Haitian national
• the Haitian government, through the Department of Agriculture,
Planning, Interior, the Ministry for the Status of peasant and the
Ministry of Extreme Poverty, the Ministry of Environment and Social
Affairs and Fayes accompanies the myriad of NGOs to initiate a massive
operation of jobs, literacy and training in all areas and all communal
sections directed mainly to agriculture, reforestation, livestock and
• The program of literacy, basic education and continuing civics becomes
not only a responsibility for the state but also of the elite. Man and
women must become Haitian citizens, aware of their rights but also aware
of their civic duty to pay their taxes and provide for the common good.
• The government should engage in its kingly responsibility to transform
the state into a nation where Haiti would provide sound institutions
and good infrastructure throughout the republic from the city to the
• The elite, those who have succeeded in spite of the unfavorable
national conditions, reach out to those who are left behind to create a
nation where living together is an experience shared and supported by
• The Haitian Diaspora must stop or rather amplify its vocation of
monthly subsistence to commit to a partnership of nation-building and
sustainable endogenous industries.
• The NGOs in general and MINUSTHA cease their particular industry that
exists for itself, not for those under their mission, and funds to
As such the Revolution of 1804 and the one closest to us in 1986 will be
no more vain conquests, an incomplete rupture; Haiti will experience
its golden age -- the one it has been tackling for over five hundred
Sometime ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly shared the view that the United States' embargo against Cuba helps the Castros, noting, "It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo, and do not want to see normalisation with the United States."
Clinton said in the same interview that "we're open to changing with them," though the US government maintains its strong position against lifting the embargo.
The fact is that Cuban-Americans, most of whom reside in Miami, had their property and other assets confiscated by Fidel Castro, worth almost US$6 billion. Should the embargo be lifted, these persons will require compensation for personal assets seized. Who will make good that claim by the Cuban migrants? Many are protesting Castro's reasons for becoming the dictator, and are not satisfied Castro will honour his obligations. These Cuban-Americans have supported Obama's Florida campaign, and it seems that as long as it takes to recover their assets, they will continue to support him.
There are no other considerations, as the effect of battle (Bay of Pigs), and the Cuban Missile Crisis, seemed to have been relinquished. The Cato Institute in the USA remarked: "The embargo has been a failure by every measure. It has not changed the course or nature of the Cuban government. It has not liberated a single Cuban citizen. In fact, the embargo has made the Cuban people a bit more impoverished, without making them one bit more liberated. At the same time, it has deprived Americans of their freedom to travel and has cost US farmers and other producers billions of dollars of potential exports."
I might add that it has also affected Jamaica's, and CARICOM's, trade possibilities with Cuba which may have been fruitful. As it is at this time, we employ Cuban doctors and other medical assistants to improve our skills in medicine, and we have sent patients into Cuba who require ophthalmic operations; it seems their availability of this discipline is greater than ours.
The embargo does place the people in poverty, but as Mrs Clinton said, it indicates that the State prefers to have a docile and ignorant population.
I have heard from various Jamaicans who seem to feel various past governments in Jamaica seem to have a similar intent, though I cannot understand why this would occur in this country. It seems a well-respected member of the Church, Pope John Paul II, had that on his mind about Cuba.
Some religious leaders oppose the embargo for a variety of reasons, including the humanitarian and economic hardships the embargo imposes on Cubans. Pope John Paul II called for an end to the embargo during his 1979 pastoral visit to Mexico. However, during his January 1998 visit to Cuba, Pope John Paul II delivered his most powerful attack against President Fidel Castro's government, urging the Roman Catholic Church to take "courageous and prophetic stands in the face of the corruption of political or economic power" and to promote human rights within Cuba.
While also opposing the embargo, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches stated, "We did not understand the depth of the suffering of Christians under communism, and we failed to really cry out under the communist oppression." The US bishops called for an end to the embargo after Pope Benedict's visit this year. Cuba has also dubbed as 'theft' the use of frozen Cuban assets to pay for lawsuits filed in the US against the Republic of Cuba.
On Thursday, June 10, 2010, seventy-four of Cuba's dissidents signed a letter to the US Congress in support of a bill that would lift the travel ban for Americans wishing to visit Cuba. The letter supports a bill introduced on February 23 by Representative Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, that would bar the president from prohibiting travel to Cuba or blocking transactions required to make such trips. It also would bar the White House from stopping direct transfers between US and Cuban banks.
The signers stated: "We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen civil society."
At this time, Americans with family in Cuba are allowed to travel and visit them; they are also allowed to bring in foodstuffs and other necessities.
Caribbean people need to re-educate themselves to fit into a changing world that is globalised by capitalism. Some of the religious and political values the majority of Caribbean people are trying to hold on to were indoctrinated in them during the colonial era by the capitalists. However, the capitalist system always keeps changing and, with the constant changes in capitalism, moral values within society changes too.
Unfortunately, the majority of Caribbean people do not understand how the capitalist system functions, and they seem to hold on the Christian values given to them by the capitalists during slavery. In some Caribbean countries people take the law into their own hands and punish citizens who participate in behaviour that is opposite to Christian values. And while the majority of citizens might condone mob rule justice, they are blind to the fact that they too are guilty of going against Christian values. In addition, the Christian values they are trying to hold on to is not what the capitalist media is selling to the Caribbean youth of today, through the media.
Caribbean societies’ Christian values have been compromised with the plantation culture of poverty, promiscuity and illiteracy. Therefore, in all Caribbean societies that claim to be Christianised, it is alright for a man to have children with various women and he will never experience resentment from the mainstream society. And the main reason why some Caribbean men are fathers of many children with different women, goes back to the days of slavery on the plantation when slaves were not allowed to raise a family.
During the period of slavery in the Caribbean, the slaves were not considered to be real human beings. Yet still, they were forced to be Christianised by their colonial masters, but they were not allowed to raise a family. They were considered as their master’s property and the religious leaders on the plantation colonies throughout the Caribbean were supportive of the slave system of such oppression. Today it is very common to hear that religious leaders of those churches that aided and abetted slavery are the ones talking about the lack of moral values in society, when they are the genesis of the problem.
However, the negative effects from that past plantation era still affect some Caribbean people up to this present time. Most Caribbean people’s biggest problem is that they do not read on a daily basis and because of the lack of reading and trying to analyse things, they become paranoid by new cultures introduced into society by the giant capitalist media. Therefore, the only way for Caribbean people to survive in this changing world that they do not have control over is to re-educate themselves.
Some Caribbean folks go to church on a weekly basis and, whatever they were told by the religious minister of church where they worship, they tend to believe everything without taking the extra time and effort to do further research. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why mob rule is very common in some Caribbean countries, whenever a minority of people act in certain ways that the majority of citizens are not accustomed to as part of the norms.
With globalisation and the spread of western cultures into the Caribbean, it is expected that new sub cultures will take root in society. And while the elders keep on defending the old style Caribbean values, the young people are exposed to social media that promote North American lifestyle values. Television news and entertainment influence coming from networks such as BET, CNN create a new mindset for today’s generation of Caribbean youth. Now they have access to iPods and internet cell phones and it is expected that some youths will conform to the foreign culture they see in the media.
In addition, most of the older Caribbean people might try to deny the fact that the usage and popularity of illegal drugs started in the 1960s during the hippie cultural era from the United States and, in the 1970s, the Rastafarian movement spread through the region with music and songs glorifying the smoking of marijuana.
Therefore, with a lack of information through education, some Caribbean people formalised what they think is right from wrong and the value system they created has deep roots in ghetto culture, which is not progressive even though it seems to be entertaining.
Now it is very common to see young Caribbean men trying to act as a macho-man to portray how manly they are in society; while on the other hand, they are lacking professional work skills to make a decent livelihood. However, these young Caribbean men do not realise that a man can only show he is a real macho man when he has a professional skill and a job that pays good wages. In addition, they do not recognise the fact that capitalism and a technology are more macho than they are, because within a capitalist society and a capitalist economy, new and better technology is always needed to keep capitalism functioning at the highest level.
However, the macho-man culture cannot build an economy and it will be impossible for Caribbean countries to make economic progress as long as they keep fighting against changes that have become part of the sub-cultures in western societies, because Caribbean countries still depend on western countries for economic and technical support. And it is not all sub-cultures in western societies that promote macho-man behaviour. However, due to the fact that the genesis of Caribbean societies begins with slavery and colonialism, the legacy of ignorance is still holding back progress and modern thinking.
Additionally, it is very easy to observe that most Caribbean folks do not understand that the societies they are living in are made up of sub-cultures that were imported from outside influence. For example, in some Caribbean countries, marijuana smoking has become part of the popular culture, even though it is an illegal drug according to the law. And if police officers catch users of that drug smoking it, they will be charged for breaking the law. Yet still, there is an increase in the number of people smoking marijuana but there are no functioning organisations with a plans trying to find a solution how to deal with marijuana issue, even though it is very common to hear musician artistes express their love for smoking marijuana.
However, with the lack of proper organisational skills and activism grouping among marijuana smokers, it is expected that they will continue pointing fingers at the police officers who arrest them for using the drug that they consider a holy herb. And unfortunately, they forget that the police role in society is to serve and protect the state according to the laws that govern the nation. It is very important that Caribbean people to re-educate themselves and fight for social change in a professional way. It will make no sense in trying to break the law and sometimes ignorantly making their own laws without the formation of proper political structure and planning.
But the strange thing is that is puzzling, with all the ignorance among some Caribbean people when it comes to dealing with social issues, that they are strong supporters of US President Barack Obama, who wants to bring about some social and political changes for the American people in a democratic and civil manner. However, it was very amazing to see the joy on Caribbean people faces, on the night of the US presidential election when President Obama was re-elected for a second term.
Those of us who are thinking openly and willing to accept changes in society can see clearly that Caribbean people only love President Obama because he is black. They are not paying any attention to Obama’s domestic policy for changing some things within American society. Therefore, based on how they are thinking in terms of dealing with social changes in the Caribbean, their political and social thoughts are more in line with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s conservative backward politics.
There is growing doubt today whether our political system is able to deal with
the realities that confront us and significantly impact our futures. U.S. voters
were uneasy with the two presidential candidates they had before them. The
turnout, lower than in 2008, reflects this disconnect.
In the country
where newscasts and networks speak daily about democracy and its greatness and
candidates are compelled to wear a U.S. flag pin on their lapels, 93 million
eligible citizens did not vote: 57.5 percent of all eligible voters turned out
this month, compared with 62.3 percent in 2008 and 60.4 percent in
I have been involved in Latino politics and public policy since
1975. I have participated in, and observed, national elections since 1976. I
have been through the "sleeping giant" claims about Latino political power, the
so- called "Decade of the Hispanic" in the 1980s, the steady ascendance to
elected office by Latinos in the 1990s, and the recognition that both political
parties are committed to the attainment and maintenance of power at the expense
Throughout this time, the liberal and conservative media
controlled and set the narrative for Latino political growth. We were talked
about and analyzed but seldom were we part of that discussion on NBC, CBS, ABC,
CNN, Fox, CSPAN or MSNBC.
Now, for the very first time, I believe Latino
voters have arrived at a point where we can claim political power. The role we
played in the election outcomes in key swing states of Nevada, Colorado and
Florida are proof that we have arrived. The facts allow me to reach that
conclusion. We went out and voted probably for the lesser of two damaged
While our turnout efficiency was less in 2012 (78 percent) than
in 2008 (84 percent), we now comprise 10 percent of the national electorate.
This is consistent with the constant increase since 2004 at 8 percent and 2008
at 9 percent. Nationally, as demonstrated in these three key states, Latinos
made up a growing share of voters.
We have spent better than four decades
working to get to this position. Many of our political mentors have been in the
Democratic and Republican parties. We have run for office on the platform that
to be fair and democratic, politics needs more Latinos. Seldom have we pressed
political visions of specific policies we would introduce to remedy the problems
we have talked about for the last 40 years. I believe we have not prepared to
get to this point. We spent entirely too much time talking about our desire to
Now that we have arrived, what will we do?
it. We have three Latinos in the U.S. Senate, all of Cuban heritage. One each
from Florida and New Jersey and now one born in Canada representing Texas. We
have 28 in the House of Representatives, a net gain of four in an institution
that has little support or respect from the public. It has been phenomenally
dysfunctional during times when it needed to be at its best.
Few of the
newly elected Latino members have spoken yet about how they would help change
these serious structural problems in Congress. Their campaigns were standard
fare as campaigns go. In other words, they were not campaigns of new ideas,
vision and specifics. With the exception of the Texas U.S. Senate race, most of
these campaigns hit Republican incumbents hard or criticized the Republican
position and philosophy. The campaigns were not about competing ideas, solutions
or philosophies. The Texas race hardly addressed any of the main issues of
concern to Latinos or the fact that the Republican and Democratic strategies had
excluded the reality of Latinos that "one size does not fit all."
the ink was dry on President Obama's victory speech, the liberal left in D.C.
was orchestrating Latino immigrant groups to call out the president to move on
immigration now that Latinos had "elected him." This is so very disconcerting.
Once again rather than initiate, we demand, we complain, we request - we react.
Rather than propose our version of what should be done on the issues of the day,
we demand payment.
This history-making contingency of Latino members of
Congress should begin a serious and inclusive dialogue within our own large and
complex Latino community on the economic issues that have historically hamstrung
our future. Since we argue that the political establishment does not take such
interest, our Latino politicos should demonstrate how to do it. While we are at
it, we should include the issues of education, health and crime in our
We should not allow Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsay
Graham to lead the way on immigration reform legislation. They are not
solution-driven, they are elements of appeasement! Both members are very far
removed from the realities that are necessary to reach reasonable and practical
solutions. We cannot afford to approach this challenge from an ideological or
It is imperative that Latinos lead this debate with
ideas that solve the human suffering, dilemmas and conflicts, unintended
consequences that undocumented flows from various countries to the United States
cause in this nation as well as in the countries of origin. Since we have
bitterly pointed out the poor leadership this issue has received from both
parties, since we have long been troubled by the separation of families, abuse
of workers and discriminatory treatment of immigrants, we must set the standard
for approaching this complex issue and not forget that it impacts all of society
in one form or another. We cannot be myopic!
We should be proud of what
everyday Latinos and Latinas did this month. We all participated in a process
that can lead to change. We must not lose sight of the fact that this is simply
the first step followed by the responsibility to govern. The hard part is making
things happen, bringing about the policies that benefit a nation, not one group.
Remember the saying, "Be careful what you wish for!"
Our wish has come
true and we better perform a lot better than those we have been criticizing for
Sacramento-based public policy consultant Arnoldo Torres
served as the national executive director of the League of United Latin American
Citizens (LULAC) in D.C. from 1979 to 1985. He testified more than 100 times on
immigration legislation and wrote several provisions of the 1986 reform bill
signed by President Ronald Reagan. He has served as an expert on Latino issues
for Univisión network over the last 12 years. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbados – The number of children born with the deadly HIV declined
significantly in the Caribbean during the period 2009 and 2011,
according to the 2012 global report by UNAIDS.
The report noted that the Caribbean, which has the second highest
incidence of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa, also recorded the
highest decline in AIDS-related deaths of any region between 2005 and
Barbados – The number of children born with the deadly HIV declined
significantly in the Caribbean during the period 2009 and 2011,
according to the 2012 global report by UNAIDS.
The report noted that the Caribbean, which has the second highest
incidence of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa, also recorded the
highest decline in AIDS-related deaths of any region between 2005 and
It was indeed another historic vote at the United Nations when 188
nations clearly said "it is time to end the embargo". This message was
clearly directed at the United States of America, which has embarked
upon a policy of embargos and isolation against the Cuban regime. I want
to join with all peace loving friends in the global community to
support the vote and continue to press for the lifting of USA embargo
against the government and people of the Republic of Cuba.
Washington should recognize and accept the overwhelming vote and
immediately begin the dismantling process. The embargo has gone on too
long and Washington's hawkish attitude should ease and demonstrate a
more conciliatory tone. At the same time, the government of Cuba also
has a responsibility to find creative and innovative ways for engaging
Washington to resolve all outstanding issues between the two nations.
Given that CARICOM nations supported the resolution and the growing
bilateral friendship between Havana and CARICOM states, the latter has a
responsibility to press Havana on changing its hard line attitude to
Washington. The cold war is over and new foreign policy engagements are
essential to bring about and sustain the necessary changes.
The Republic of Cuba is part of the Caribbean and this must always be
understood and accepted. Manley of Jamaica, Barrow of Barbados, Burnham
of Guyana and Williams of Trinidad must all be remembered and recognized
for their political courage shown in establishing diplomatic relations
with Cuba. These leaders were strong regionalists and in spite of the
enormous pressure placed on them by Washington and the United Kingdom to
isolate Cuba, they did not succumb to Washington's pressure. May these
leaders continue to rest in peace. Your leadership strength will always
be remembered and recognized.
Since Havana's diplomatic recognition within the CARICOM region, the
Republic has had its encouraging and dull moments. The bombing of a
Cuban Airline of Barbados, which resulted in the death of many Cuban
nationals, is a historical moment that cannot be ignored. The Estrada
affair in Jamaica, which saw former Prime Minister Eddy Seaga ordering
the ambassador's expulsion and pursuing a policy of isolation against
The 1983 Grenada conflict which led to United States military
intervention resulted in the humiliation, capture and deportation of
many Cuban workers from Grenada who were at the time engaged in the
building of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA). In addition
to the humiliation by the US military, the Republic also suffered the
destruction of heavy equipment, including an aircraft that was parked at
Pearls Airport on the eastern side of Grenada. These dull moments never
deterred Havana's commitment to the region. The Republic of Cuba
remains the largest donor of foreign assistance to CARICOM nations.
Cuba has also had some enduring moments in the region. Although Bishop's
assassination was seen as a great setback for Cuba and the regional
revolutionary movement, the former Grenada Mitchell administration
recognized the importance of Cuba and benefits to be derived in Grenada
led to a state visit to Grenada by Fidel Castro and afforded him to land
at the MBIA, which was started with Cuban labour and completed with
United States assistance as a result of the military intervention.
Grenada has benefitted significantly from Cuba in rebuilding Grenada's
health infrastructure which has been destroyed by the current NDC Thomas
In my view, Cuba has proven its worth to CARICOM and, while the United
Nations General Assembly vote is a step in the right direction, CARICOM
nations need to expand their work by jointly telling Washington that it
is time to lift the embargo against Cuba. It is not too clear if our
leaders are prepared to demonstrate the leadership shown by Burnham,
Barrow, Williams and Manley.
So the embargo limbo continues and it is not too certain that the
hawkish State Department officials are placing any importance of the
overwhelming vote. It is quite possible that many of the State
Department hawks are privately saying that it is just one of the annual
UN rituals outside of the General Assembly talk shop.
It only shows that Cuba-United States diplomatic relations are far from
resolution and the interest sections in both capitals will continue with
their allegations of diplomatic misconduct by each other.
The Republic of Cuba maintains an interest section housed in the Embassy
of Switzerland in Washington. The United States maintain in a similar
arrangement at the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana.
"THERE is nothing worse than a blind man who does not want to
see," is a popular expression among Cubans, and can be perfectly applied to
recently reelected U.S. President Barack Obama. During his first term in office,
Obama has not strayed an inch from the policy of economic, commercial and
financial blockade of Cuba which he inherited from successive previous
administrations and is directed at destroying the Cuban Revolution.
On November 13, 1991, the UN General Assembly made the decision to
include on the agenda of its next session a Cuban resolution entitled, "The
necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on
Cuba by the United States."
Those were the times when the U.S. was opportunistically
tightening its blockade of Cuba, which was struggling given the collapse of the
USSR. The Torricelli Act was being implemented, limiting sales of medicine and
food to the country by subsidiaries of U.S. companies established in other
nations. It was this official act which exposed the notorious extraterritorial
nature of the U.S. blockade.
As if this weren’t enough, in 1996, the Helms-Burton Act was
approved, further extending the extraterritorial application of blockade
regulations and explicitly citing the goal of "regime change" and plans for
subsequent U.S. intervention in Cuba. Moreover, no one in the current U.S.
administration has indicated whether the 2004 Bush plan for Cuba, intended to
re-colonize the country, remains in effect.
Thus two decades have transpired and the UN General Assembly
continues to condemn the genocidal White House policy, recognizing the issue as
one of respect for national self-determination, international law and
established trade norms, all of which are fundamental to the United Nations.
The blockade is now one of the traditional issues addressed by the
General Assembly. Calls to end the policy are reiterated again and again, and
while Cuba’s resolution receives overwhelming majority support, the isolation
and shameful behavior of an aggressive nation is exposed. The U.S. is publicly
reminded every year of the heroic resistance of the Cuban people who will not
surrender our right to sovereignty.
Shortly after the announcement of Obama’s reelection, Bolivian
President Evo Morales called on him to change U.S. policy toward Cuba, saying,
"Thanks to the Latino vote, he is the President-elect. I would say that the
least he could do would be to lift or end the economic blockade of Cuba. That’s
the best thing he can do to acknowledge the votes of Latin Americans in the
United States," Morales said during a speech in Potosí.
Nevertheless, with its customary arrogance and increasingly absurd
arguments, Washington is totally ignoring international demands, preferring to
rely on force rather than the moral strength of its policies.
In the 21st UN vote, taken on November 13, 188 nations supported
the Cuban resolution, expressing a practically unanimous international opinion
in opposition to a unilateral policy, the reprehensible goal of which is to
force the Cuban people to surrender because of hunger and illness and not, as
alleged, to promote human rights and democracy. In this vendetta, the U.S. is
accompanied only by Israel and Palau, while the Marshall Islands and Micronesia
The Obama administration has maintained the principal elements of
the longstanding U.S. economic war on Cuba; in fact, there have been more
extensive attacks on international companies which had commercial relations with
Cuba or processed related financial transactions.
According to the annual report published by the U.S. Treasury
Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), at the close of 2011, the
value of Cuban funds frozen in that country amounted to $245 million.
Washington has even created obstacles to Cuba’s attempts to pay
its contributions to UN organizations, supported the theft of Cuban trademarks
by U.S. companies and taken reprisals against those who have chosen to do
business with the country.
According to conservative estimates, the Obama administration’s
anti-Cuban crusade, just this last year, has cost Cuba $3,553,602,645, 15% more
than in 2010.
Over the same period, the fact that blockade regulations prohibit
Cuba from using U.S. dollars in financial transactions with other countries has
cost the country 57% more this year. Financial losses caused by frozen funds,
the breaking of contracts and litigation have all increased.
In the tourist sector alone, damages were estimated to have been
2.3 billion dollars.
Over the course of 50 years, through 11 U.S. federal
administrations, the blockade has caused enormous human suffering and extensive
economic damage, reaching the astronomical figure of $1.066 trillion,
considering the devaluation of the U.S. dollar as compared to gold on the
In Fidel’s Reflection of April 21, 2009, entitled ‘Obama and the
Blockade,’ Cuba’s historical leader wrote, "Do we have to wait many more years
for him to end the blockade? He didn’t invent it, but he has made it his own,
just as 10 other United States Presidents have. He can expect sure failure
following this route, just like all his predecessors. This was not the dream of
Martin Luther King, whose role in the struggle for human rights will
increasingly illuminate the path forward for the U.S. people."
Thus Cuba stands firm, continuing its political, economic and
social project, despite this uncivilized policy. The vast majority of the
world’s people support the country, recognizing that it has reason and truth on
its side. •