Saturday, June 29, 2013

1 in 3 women abused worldwide

BY CORY COUILLARD




PHYSICAL or sexual violence affects more than one in three women worldwide, according to a new report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and partnering health authorities. The report represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women.

"Some 35 per cent of all women will experience either intimate partner or non-partner violence," says the report. Additionally, 38 per cent of all women murdered were reportedly killed by their partners, and such violence is a major contributor to depression, alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and abortions.

"These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions," said Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO. "We also see that the world's health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence."

Health impacts of violence

Violence in the home is a major contributor to women's mental health. The report found women who experienced partner violence to be nearly twice as likely to experience depression. Further, mental health disorders are skyrocketing as children view the abuse and it becomes a generational acceptance.

About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Around 20 per cent of the world's children and adolescents are estimated to have mental disorders or problems. Stigma about mental disorders and discrimination often prevents people from seeking mental health care.

"Women experiencing intimate partner violence are almost twice as likely as other women to have alcohol-use problems," according to the WHO.

Alcohol use has short and long-term health consequences. It's a leading cause of depression and other mental health conditions as well as sexually transmitted infections. Women who experience physical and/or sexual partner violence are 1.5 times more likely to acquire syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea or HIV.

Additionally, violence is a leading cause of unwanted pregnancy and abortion. The report found that women experiencing physical and/or sexual partner violence are twice as likely to have an abortion. If the female carries to term, they have a 16 per cent greater chance of having a low birth-weight baby -- a leading cause of infant mortality and complications.

"This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common. We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women's health problem," said Professor Charlotte Watts, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

"Gender-based violence is responsible for the psychological distress, which results in acceptance, which results in more violence, and consequently, more psychological distress: a cycle of risk and consequence," said Rachel Jewkes from the South African Medical Research Council.

Psychological distress and alcohol use also makes it much harder for women to protect themselves. It makes them more likely to accept the man's dominance in the relationship and she is more likely to have frequent sex without a condom, explains Jewkes.

Women often suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages and lack participation in activities. These common outcomes will prevent and limit a woman's ability to care for herself and her family.
Sadly, a common side effect of abuse is more abuse - It's a downward spiral.

Dr Cory Couillard is an international health care speaker and columnist for numerous publications throughout the world. He works in collaboration with the World Health Organisation's goals of disease prevention and global health-care education. drcorycouillard@gmail.com. twitter: DrCoryCouillard

June 26, 2013

Jamaica Observer

Sunday, June 23, 2013

PETROCARIBE: Cooperation within a new framework

By Mario Esquive







THE integrationist enterprise PETROCARIBE, launched in 2005 to support Latin American and Caribbean energy security, has designed new structures for cooperation, meant to consolidate its position internationally.

Critical to this effort is a proposal to work for the creation of a PETROCARIBE Economic Zone, subject to analysis of specific national characteristics by members’ respective governments.

The objective looks to support the strengthening of member countries economically and socially, through the establishment of a framework for trade and stimulation of productive activities

According to experts, this option differs from similar, traditional schema in which, for the most part, foreign industrial and service businesses are authorized to function within an area, under a regimen of financial and administrative benefits and exemptions.

In the case of PETROCARIBE, the special economic zone would facilitate the articulation of production sequences through a regional development plan.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro noted that June 29, the anniversary of the group’s foundation, would be an appropriate occasion to make concrete decisions along these lines, above all in the economic and financial spheres.

The measures, he added, must lead to the strengthening of investments in key areas such as agriculture, agricultural industry, technology and tourism, among other economic activities.

Figures indicate that PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela) has sold 232 million barrels of oil to the country’s 17 associates in the group over the last six years.

The daily average delivery of 108,000 barrels by PDVSA covers 40% of the consumption requirements of PETROCARIBE member nations.

The enterprise agreement operates within a financing framework which uses prices on the international market as a reference. However, dispositions exist to support member countries, such as grace periods for payment over one or two years, along with the option to cancel a portion of the debt with food supplies.

Now the economic zone strategy is looking to consolidate productive sectors in order to generate economic earnings to make the cooperative operation sustainable.

The agreement, which includes 18 countries, has thus far made advances in the social arena which go beyond the supply of fuel under favorable financial conditions.

Through the ALBA-Caribe Fund, 179 million dollars have been allocated for 85 projects in 12 countries, in addition to $22 million for electrical works.

By way of the ALBA Food Fund, 24 million dollars were made available to a dozen initiatives to promote sustainable production of basic food items.

Additionally, 12 joint venture companies have undertaken 48 projects in their respective countries. (Orbe)
 
June 20, 2013
 
 
 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The issue of Haitians in The Bahamas

The rise of the Haitian population

Community expands since independence


By Juan McCartney
Guardian Broadcast Editor
juan@nasguard.com


The issue of Haitians in The Bahamas has long been a contentious one. On one side of the divide are those who believe The Bahamas should be welcoming toward Haitians. The other side is filled with those who believe our national identity is being threatened and normally blame Haitians for a host of social ills.

It wasn’t always this way.

While there were many years in the middle of the 20th Century when Haitians trickled in for menial labor jobs and were usually just as quick to leave, the 1980s saw a boom in Haitian migration as that nation’s economy and political situation collapsed.

Now, as The Bahamas celebrates its 40th anniversary as an independent nation, many are reflecting on how much has changed with regard to the Haitian population since the birth of the nation.

According to census data, since independence, the population of the entire Bahamas has more than doubled; however, the Haitian population has grown to more than six times what it was in 1970.

The data, compiled by the Department of Statistics, shows that Haitians represented 3.6 percent (6,151) of the population in 1970. By 2000, that figure nearly doubled to 7.1 percent (21,426). According to the census conducted in 2010, Haitians represented 11.5 percent (39,144) of the population.

Put another way: At least one out of every 10 people who reside in The Bahamas is now Haitian.

And the growth is projected to continue. Data collected by the Department of Statistics in 2010 on births in The Bahamas over the previous 40 years shows that women, domestic and foreign-born, are having fewer children. Except Haitian women, that is.

While the overall birth rate in 2010 was about 50 percent of what it was in 1970, the birth rate among Haitian women in The Bahamas has nearly doubled in the past 40 years.

This, even as births by foreign women have dropped in the past four decades, from about 30 percent in 1970 to about 18 percent in 2010.

“The number of births (to Haitian women) grew from 7.2 percent in 1970, to an average of 13.7 percent by 2010,” the report noted. “In contrast, births to women of Jamaican ethnicity declined by some 50 percent. For females from countries outside the Caribbean, the numbers of births plunged, especially since 2008 to (nearly zero) from 12.1 in 1970.”

Though Haitians now make up 11 percent of the population, that number is basically focused in a handful of islands, often making the Haitian presence seem much greater.

According to data compiled by W.J. Fielding, et al., published in The Stigma of Being “Haitian” in The Bahamas in The College of The Bahamas Research Journal, 2008, shows that Haitian communities are mainly present on Abaco, New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera.

“This has resulted in a perception that Haitians are taking over,” noted Fielding, et al.

“It would seem that economic opportunities are the driving force which causes the Haitian community to become concentrated, which would be expected given that Haitians migrate to The Bahamas to find work.

“The disproportionate increase in size of the Haitian community can expect to make nationals feel threatened, and lead to xenophobia and, in the case of the Dominican Republic, attacks on Haitian migrants.”

And the fact that Haitians are having more children seems to have further concentrated their presence in schools on the four islands they predominantly reside on.

Fielding showed that on Abaco, in 2005, Haitians represented 16.9 percent of the population. However, Haitian children accounted for 31.3 percent of those enrolled in school.

On New Providence, where Haitians accounted for 7.2 percent of the population, Haitian children accounted for 12.5 percent of those enrolled in school.

Things were on a more even keel in Grand Bahama, where Haitians represented 5.4 percent of the population and 5.8 percent of students.

On Eleuthera, Haitians represented 9.5 percent of the population and 10 percent of students.

Fielding submitted that being Haitian in The Bahamas leads to stigmatization and isolation.

One of the very real situations that leads to further discrimination and stigmatization of Haitians are shantytowns.

According to a report completed earlier this year by researchers in the Department of Environmental Health, there has been ‘a marked increase’ in the number of

shantytowns on New

Providence over the last two years and the populations have grown “exponentially”.

According to the report titled ‘Haitian shanty village locations in New Providence’, there are at least 15 of these illegal communities on the island.

Researchers found that there is a “marked indifference to the extremely unhealthy conditions by those that occupy the shanties”.

The researchers also found that there is an abundant use of Bahamian pine trees for the purpose of producing coal for commercial purposes.

They said commerce is alive and well in many of the areas surveyed, and also warned of a serious and growing threat to public health.

Researchers said “the presence of discarded human usage, waste, combined with the presence of domestic livestock is evident”.

It said the teams of researchers observed, in almost every shantytown, the presence of human and animal waste.

The report said the Haitian migration, and subsequent squatting, are focused primarily in New Providence and the Family Islands with larger population concentrations like Abaco and Andros.

Researchers said an increasing trend is the increase in the number of Bahamians (people who claim to be Bahamian citizens based on one parent being of Haitian progeny) while others claim outright Bahamian ancestry.

Discussing shantytowns in their research, Fielding et al., noted that the cycle of Haitians occupying such villages is likely to continue.

“It is clear that the Haitian community lives in poorer circumstances than other residents in the country,” they noted. “Almost certainly, this is due to lower incomes, which in turn is a result of poor education and (presumably) language barriers, which prevent Haitian nationals from getting better employment.”

Minister of Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett last week promised a crackdown on shantytowns, claiming that the process of clearing them up has just started.

However, there is one glaring mystery left in the wake of Dorsett’s proclamation: What is to become of the predominantly Haitian residents of the shantytowns?

The Christie administration has so far not presented a solution to the problem of illegal Haitian migration – long or short term.

There has been a commitment to beef up the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, but that will take years and the focus of that plant upgrade is still unclear.

Forty years after independence, the problem of Haitian migration in The Bahamas persists without a viable plan to stop it or to naturalize and integrate them into our culture.

“Rather than being considered a threat, as migrants can be,” said Fielding, “These people should be seen as a legitimate part of a multicultural society who enrich the lives of all residents.”

June 17, 2013

The Nassau Guardian

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Is civil society becoming extinct?

By Anthony GOMES





 



THROUGHOUT the world, civil society is disappearing and being replaced by violence of all descriptions and brutality of the worst kind. Apart from the cultural coarsening of civil society, whether they include violent street protests. engaging the police at one end of the spectrum, or civil war fuelled by sectarian lifestyle differences, the planet again faces the possibility of world conflagration.

The humanitarian tragedy of Syria, the Boko Haram Islamic uprising in Nigeria, the sabre-rattling aggression of North Korea, the unwinnable Afghanistan campaign, the neutralising of al-Qaeda in Yemen, the intense cultural differences between Sunni and Shea in Iraq, the interventions by Iran in Iraq and Lebanon by Hezbollah, and incursions by al-Qaeda in Mali, Algeria and Libya all began with inaccurate Western intelligence regarding the presence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), that were never found. Theey were recently believed to be stored in Syria, mainly consisting of chemical weapons, and used, according to France and the EU, against the Syrian rebel cohorts. Let us also not forget the struggle in Pakistan against the al-Qaeda Taliban. Being a nuclear power with a well-stocked atomic arsenal, Pakistan is of serious concern to the Western powers, lest atomic weapons were to fall into the hands of the Taliban.

As described above, there is no denying that the deadly plague of terrorism is spreading beyond all borders, in the name of Islam. In recent years al-Qaeda has suffered heavy losses resulting from drone strikes that regrettably have a high rate of collateral damage, which has made them a very unpopular offensive weapon. The al-Qaeda magazine Inspire has revealed their newly devised strategy that calls for home-grown individual jihadists, who have been radicalised to carry out attacks, mostly on "soft" targets; similar to the Boston bombings, the murder of the young Fusilier in London, and the latest shootings with the resemblance of an al-Qaeda operation in Santa Monica, US, that is yet to be confirmed. The Western Christian powers are still considering how to deal with this new offensive self-sacrificing run of events.

Since the end of WW II, the faith and morals of the Christian West have undergone serious diminution in the cause of social freedom, sovereignty, and fuelled by secularism that has given new intepretation to what is right or wrong. Traditions and other cultural norms have been tested in the legal and ecclesiastical domains, widening the meaning of "truth" to embrace influential factors of human rights, gender and race, all of which have spawned pernicious arguments, which may be termed "modern" jurisprudence. In colloquial language: "One can do no wrong," if you can afford a skilled defender.

These liberalised modern statutes represent a departure from what was considered normal or accepted, or regarded as right. This new-founded attitude has given rise to open disobedience that challenges all the rules of the historic social establishment which, in too many cases, ends up in tragedy. The sinister characteristics can be seen in the murder of innocents, the aged, decapitations, abortion, and euthanasia, to list some of the more common acts that stalk the "land we love". The defenders of human rights from abroad find it difficult to grasp the multiple and brutal murders that occupy the pages and waves of our media. They find it difficult to understand why capital punishment is appropriate in such indescribable assaults on human kind. This mindset is due, in part, to the landmark case of Ruth Ellis, which changed the previously held attitude to capital punishment in the UK.

In 1955, in Britain, the practice of capital punishment encountered a major challenge which resulted in the mandatory requirement for the death penalty in capital cases being removed. Until then, there was strong support for the application of the death penalty, dictated by the law at that time. However, with the landmark case of Ruth Ellis, a 28-year-old young woman born in North Wales on 9th October 1925, who was the last woman to be hanged on 13th July 1955 at Her Majesty's woman's prison, Holloway, in London. Her case was one of premeditated murder to which she confessed, and, according to public opinion, would have been classified in this century as a "crime passionelle" that warranted life imprisonment. She was executed by Albert Pierrepoint, a member of the historically famous family of executioners. The event caused a fundamental change in public opinion that has reshaped contemporary jurisdiction in the UK.

Since then, Western societies have witnessed a raft of dramatic liberalisations which have changed the current social lifestyles across the Western hemisphere from same-sex unions to rampant multiple shootings of innocent civilians and schoolchildren, due to the easy possession of powerful military-type firearms which, in the case of the US, is enshrined in the Second Amendment of their constitution and relentlessly upheld by the powerful National Rifle Association.

The cost of maintaining the new-found liberalised lifestyle comes at a high price, with many deserving malevolent souls walking free, given the present complex system of proving guilt due to the monumental earnings in circulation from the drugs trade, and the threatened reprisals against the families of witnesses that form the themes of the nightly television stories that are becoming more realistic as time goes by.

May we be guided to calmer waters by the prayers of the faithful.

June 12, 2013

Jamaica Observer

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

...the future of The Bahamas

The young and unemployed




The Nassau Guardian Editorial
Nassau, The Bahamas



On May 7, 2012, many young Bahamians exercised their right to vote in an election for the first time.  But it is this generation lured by promises of a better Bahamas that continues to suffer the consequences of continually failing government policies.  The Bahamas has an overall unemployment rate of 14 percent that surges to nearly 31 percent for those between the ages of 15 and 24.

It is this generation of discouraged Bahamians who asks where are the promised 10,000 jobs?  The government’s answer: An inadequate campaign to expel domestic staff in the pursuit of a so-called Bahamians first policy.  Surely, the government can do more to inspire, develop and meet the career aspirations of our children?  To the misfortune of our young, simply being Bahamian will neither improve educational aptitude, nor professional qualifications.

Spending on education has not doubled as promised.  Repeatedly passed for seemingly more pressing matters of webshops and lottery, poor education now stands as a significant barrier of entry to the workplace.  A point of consternation reiterated by the Bahamian business community and acknowledged in a recent Inter-American Development (IDB) report.

Yet this government prefers to appease the cronies of independence, while our youth stand idle with dangerous temptation.  They naively listen to the PLP’s ongoing eulogy of a glorious era under Sir Lynden Pindling that seldom touches on the problems of drugs and corruption during those times.  They dream of the yesteryear of independence because this is a government that prefers the past to the present.  They cheer the creation of a holiday to celebrate majority rule, while our Parliament bars entry to young people when they seek accountability.

The College of The Bahamas Union of Students (COBUS) made a laudable attempt to express its dismay for college fee increases but saw its efforts dashed by ridiculous assertions that the peaceful and professionally-dressed student group was a security threat.  Unlike Spain and Greece, our youth have not marched en masse on Rawson Square to demand change.

In its second year, this government must reaffirm its commitment to education and make it a priority.  It must showcase talented Bahamians whose intellectual prowess has lead to success.  It must advocate scholastic achievement through hard work and dedication to study.  It must engrain in the minds of our youth that education is the key to success.  Most importantly, the government must engage this next generation of Bahamians in the process and administration of government.
They are the future Bahamas.

June 11, 2013

The Nassau Guardian



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gender Equality in the Caribbean

Gender inequality in the Caribbean: A sad story




By Rebecca Theodore:



Christianity, it has been argued, “changed the world, established the roots of civilization and advanced the general well -being of humanity.” Astoundingly enough, it now seems that the Christian thought that evolved from the fiery preaching of St Paul the apostle to the Ephesians is now engulfing the Caribbean in a tide of darkness and destruction. Emboldened by a religious intellectualism fiddled with emotionalism, the dilemma of gender inequality lies fortified amidst a wreckage that yearns for a perfect comprehension in the Caribbean.


The lurid and pithy utterances and the revelation contained in Ephesians 5: 22-23 and 1 Timothy 2:11-14 are now distinguished in a surge of gender inequality that betrays the progress that women have made and continue to make in the Caribbean.

If statistics concerning gender inequality in the Caribbean are correct, then we at once see the economic, social, and political status of women being rapidly eroded in a patriarchal society where religion worships the epitome of a male dominated supremacy.

As ministers of religion take to the pulpits and preach the boldness and grandeur of the scriptures, it seems more men are taken in with the soaring flight of their own imaginations as a reason to beat their wives because they are the head of the household. Others feel compelled to restrain them to silence in church ministry and political participation.

Statistics report that “women in the Caribbean still lack promotional rights, free from job discrimination as social and legal institutions do not pledge equality in employment and earning and social and political participation.” Caribbean women not only continue to cluster at the lower sectors of society in terms of employment, wages, and political representation, making them vulnerable to poverty and gender-based violence and harassment, but to conflicting ideology of power and religious oppression as well.

The impact of gender inequality on Caribbean shores should now awaken the conscience of governments to take measures to ensure that all its citizens are protected. It is time that Caribbean governments focus on the eradication of direct and indirect forms of discrimination against women through legislative reforms and the enactment of gender sensitive social, political and religious policies.

Although one might be tempted to infer that Christian morals should be upheld in every aspect of our daily lives, it must also be seen that in a society where women’s rights are vaporized by religion, then the narrative becomes sexist in origin and chaos quickly follows.

It is assumed that since St Augustine and his confessions, the Christian church continues to misread Paul and religious interpreters are losing sight of the controversy regarding the relationship between men and women. Former professor at Harvard University Divinity School Krister Stendahl confirms that “Paul’s biblical exegesis, historical interpretation and sociological analysis, is only demonstrative of an "introspective conscience" hence the real dynamic in Paul’s polemic, i.e., the relationship between men and women should not be one that encourages or contributes to abuse of women or gender inequality.”

If God is the liberator of all humanity, then shouldn’t the aim of the law as understood in Christianity construct a device capable of inclusion of all sexes? Why then should St Paul declare it a shame for women to speak in public or constrain them to silence, thus reducing them to inequality and slaves of the law?

Seeking to alienate women from the duties and privileges of church leadership or employment equity is antiquated in nature especially in a glowing 21st century where much emphasis is placed on gender egalitarianism and non-discrimination.

History has proven time and time again, that institutions of faith destroy equality. It must also be remembered that it was the skepticism of organized religion that led to the fundamentalist movement in the United States and the manipulation of individual faith as a means to a political end, because people wanted the freedom to learn from the bible, and interpret it themselves through their community church.

And while there is salvation on the Damascus road, the need for structural reform, redefinition of power, accelerating human rights for women to provide a firm foundation for social, religious and economic development and security should now be an urgent plea in many Caribbean societies.

June 06, 2013

Caribbean News Now!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Summit of the Pacific Alliance: ...Return of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)?

Pacific Alliance: Return of the FTAA?



By Anubis Galardy




THE Summit of the Pacific Alliance, comprising Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru, which took place May 23 in Cali, Colombia, left clear its pretension to become the new economic and development organization for Latin America and the Caribbean, within a framework of the free circulation of goods, services, capital and persons among its member states.

The idea of former Peruvian President Alan García, formalized in Chile in 2012, the implementation of this new regional mechanism has generated rejection, criticism and distrust.

Argentine political analyst Atilio Borón defined it as a political-economic maneuver on the part of Washington to retrieve its lost influence in the region, after the 2005 defeat in Mar del Plata of its grand strategic project, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

In other words, the plan is to build a kind of contra-insurgency or reactionary corridor to counterbalance the radical or moderate left in the region, Borón emphasized.

Peruvian researcher Carlos Alonso agrees with this perception. For him, the Alliance is also a resurgence of the failed FTAA, this time in an undisguised neoliberal version.

The Pacific Alliance has emerged in the face of other regional integration mechanisms such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), MERCOSUR, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).with a concrete divisive and pro-Washington mission, to facilitate the United States repositioning itself with force in the region, he noted.

The Pacific Alliance divides South America into two: a part which seeks to play a role in world politics, for which it needs to act within a framework of sovereignty, and another with clear right-wing leanings, and inclined toward Washington, Alonso continues.

In summary, it is simply a merger of the Free Trade Treaties that Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile and shortly Panama and Costa Rica (currently observer countries) have with the United States, among themselves and with other countries in the region sharing a Pacific coast, Alonso concludes.

In his opinion, all of this is pointed toward a supra-free trade area with the Asian-Pacific region (Pacific Arch) which the United States is seeking to dominate.

Meanwhile, in Colombia, which assumed the rotating presidency of the Alliance at the Summit, Eduardo Sarmiento, director of the School of Engineering’s Economic Observatory, stated, "The free interchange of goods among members of this new bloc could possibly generate cheaper products, but at the cost of sacrificing employment and the country’s growth." (Orbe weekly)

June 06, 2013
 
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bahamian tourism is “starving” in The Bahamas

Tourism 'Starving': The Shop Is Bare





By NEIL: HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
nhartnell@tribunemedia.net
Nassau, The bahamas



Bahamian tourism is “starving” because it has both failed to develop a unique product, a well-known architect believes, and not invested in creating key “attractions”.
 
Pat Rahming, of Pat Rahming & Associates, told Tribune Business that while the Bahamas had potential tourism product “coming out of its ears”, much of it was “locked away in a warehouse with three padlocks on it”.
 
And he explained that rather than focus on developing one-of-a-kind ‘attractions’, the Bahamas had instead concentrated the bulk of its tourism investments in the infrastructure that supported them - accommodation (hotels) and transportation.
 
Pointing to the “dilapidated” state of Nassau’s few land-based attractions, such as the forts and Water Tower, Mr Rahming likened Bahamian tourism to a shop with little inventory on its shelves.
 
Arguing that ‘attractions’ were the equivalent of tourism’s “cash register”, Mr Rahming said of these shortcomings: “That’s why we’re losing our shirts, and other people are eating our lunch.”
 
His thoughts offer a new perspective on why some believe the Bahamas’ tourism competitiveness is slip-sliding away, a perception reinforced by a Tribune Business report last week.
 
This newspaper reported that stopover visitors’ share of total foreign arrivals to the Bahamas had slipped from around 31-32 per cent pre-recession to around 24-25 per cent for the past four years. In raw terms, this means that high yielding stopover visitors (spending over $1,000 per head) have declined from one out of every three visitors to one out of every four.
 
Recalling how he arrived at his conclusions, Mr Rahming said he first began attending the annual American Parks and Attractions convention some 17-18 years ago.
 
Becoming a regular attendee every November, he explained: “The key was that I learned through that organisation that the business of tourism, the members of that organisation were the people that drove the business of tourism globally.
 
“At the various seminars and workshops, I came to understand why our business was floundering, what we were doing and perhaps ought not to be doing.”
 
Although he failed to convince Ministry of Tourism officials to accompany him to that convention, Mr Rahming said he learnt that all tourists - wherever they were in the world - were seeking unique Place-specific Experiences.
 
This, he told Tribune Business, could be delivered through a variety of products - place, history, mythology and lifestyle. New York and Miami were lifestyle destinations; London was a historical destination; Athens was steeped in ancient mythology; and unique places included the likes of Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.
 
Downtown Nassau was once, Mr Rahming said, the place-specific destination that Spanish Wells, Hope Town and Green Turtle Cay were now. Yet the fundamental flaw was that the Bahamas still had to properly define its tourism product (Place-specific experience).
 
Noting that the Bahamas represented Christopher Columbus’s first port of call in the Western Hemisphere in 1492, Mr Rahming told Tribune Business: “Someone looking for a warm weather destination, sun, sand and sea, has half the world available to him, but the guy looking for the spot where contemporary civilisation started has only one choice.
 
“We are the genesis of all contemporary Americans, the Bahamas. Isn’t that incredible? This is why it becomes so important to the business of tourism. We have product coming out of our ears, but it’s all locked away with three padlocks on it.”
 
In contrast, Mr Rahming said the Dominican Republic had chosen in 1991 to focus on Columbus as an attraction, changing the focus of its tourism product.
 
It had also concentrated on golf, these two moves explaining why its stopover visitor numbers had increased by 109.8 per cent in the nine years up to 2000. Cuba’s growth over the same period was 318.4 per cent, yet the Bahamas’ growth remained in low double digits.
 
Unlike New Orleans with its ‘Voodo’ aura, Mr Rahming said the Bahamas had never exploited its ‘Obeah’ mythology. “This is one of the few places you can go where there isn’t a church tour,” he added.
 
And, while aspects of the Bahamian diet and lifestyle were unique, this nation paid “so little attention to it” as part of the tourism product.
 
“The position is that we have product coming out of our ears, but we are losing business because we have no product,” Mr Rahming told Tribune Business. “This is why we are losing our shirts, people are eating our lunch.”
 
This, he added, was exacerbated by the Bahamas misunderstanding where the tourism ‘Point of Sale’ or cash register was located. It was not located in hotels, transportation or hospitality, which were supporting infrastructure, but attractions.
 
Mr Rahming said there were five types of attraction - traditional tours; retail (the Straw Market); events (the Super Bowl); infrastructure; and resorts.
 
He described the latter as “the most misunderstood in our neck of the woods”. Bahamians generally believed resorts were a hotel with a few facilities, but Mr Rahming argued it was the other way around - a resort was an attraction with accommodation as the supporting facility.
 
Pointing to Atlantis as a water-based theme park attraction, Mr Rahming told Tribune Business: “Atlantis is an attraction, but it has accommodation.
 
“They understand that, and you never hear an Atlantis executive call Atlantis a hotel. But you’ll hear us call it a hotel because we don’t understand.”
 
The result of this misunderstanding, Mr Rahming said, was that “the only investment for the tourism business is on accommodation, and this isn’t helping us.
 
“If you look at New Providence, you will see all our attractions are in trouble. We have few tours, and by any definition of tourism we have very few land-based attractions. What we have are dilapidated or in bad shape,” he told Tribune Business.
 
“That’s the product we are selling. We have the Ministry of Tourism going out to bring customers in, but we have very little inventory on the shelves, and what is on the shelves is not selling. That’s why our lunch is being eaten by other people.”
 
Focusing on Freeport, Mr Rahming said the strategy of concentrating on casino and hotel operators was entirely misplaced. “In their case there is absolutely nothing on the shelf, nothing whatsoever,” he told Tribune Business.
 
“We have product coming out of our ears. This destination, the Bahamas, is the most gifted community on the planet, 350,000 people. You put us against any other community in the world, we have more champions per capita. Why are we starving?
 
“It’s about the fact the shop is open and there’s very little on the shelf. You can’t make money without stuff on the shelf.”
 
Going back to the retail analogy, Mr Rahming said the industry’s ‘first rule’ was that if there was something to sell, it had to be easy to buy. The second was that if you were selling something the competition could sell, price would inevitably drive sales.
 
This was the situation Bahamian tourism now found itself in, a price-driven competition, due to the absence of a unique product and associated attractions.
 
June 03, 2013
 
 
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Criminal deportees from the United States to the Caribbean are a great challenge to the countries of the region...

CARICOM leaders discuss criminal deportees with Biden




by Calvin G. Brown:



Regional Governments have told US Vice President Joe Biden that the matter of criminal deportees from the US to the Caribbean was a great challenge to the countries of the region and the US needs to do more in terms of intelligence sharing in this regard.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar the incoming Chairman of the CARICOM's Conference of Heads of Government, told the media yesterday that the matter of criminal deportees featured in the discussions with the US Vice President as it was one of the issues that Specific focus was given to the issue as it relates to the Caribbean, and the increase of crime and violence, which has a perceived correlation with the increase in the number of criminal deportees from the United States of America.

She also indicated that the discussions were in line with the Prime Minister’s meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns on April 17, this year, when she referred to the need for the US Government to do more to inform Trinidad and Tobago and regional authorities of the criminal background of deportees from Caribbean countries and to the need to improve information sharing on deportations.

The Prime Minister thanked Biden, noting that one of the major problems being experienced is that many of the criminal deportees would have left the Region prior to adulthood and do not have any ties to the countries to which they have been deported.

In this context, Persad-Bissessar suggested that increased focus should be placed on improved information and intelligence sharing with respect to criminal deportees, in particular access to complete dossiers on medical and criminal history as well as consideration of financial and technical assistance to establish re-integration programmes within CARICOM Member States.

In addition, she noted that because the majority of criminal deportees have few support networks or connections in their home country, making them vulnerable to criminal careers, therefore threatening the same citizen peace and security that the Region is working so assiduously to improve.

The Prime Minister referred to a Memorandum of Understanding between both governments, pertaining to the removal of criminal aliens from the United States. That MoU, from the year 2000, was intended to address, among other issues, the challenges faced by Trinidad and Tobago when criminal aliens arrive from the US without advanced notification. However it has not produced all of the expected results as it failed to ensure forwarding of complete records.

The Prime Minister thanked the US Vice President for his visit and noted that the visit indicated that the US remains a strong ally to the region.

She noted that other security matters were discussed at their meeting, including an offer from the United States with respect to the use of naval vessels that are being decommissioned to see whether they would be able to assist with border security.

The Prime Miinister said several options had been discussed along with the invitation to see the naval vessels on site and their capabilities.

At yesterday’s media briefing, at which no questions were allowed, chairman of Caricom, Haitian President Michel Martelly, described the talks as “frank but cordial” and said the meeting with Biden was an important precursor to a summit between regional leaders and US President Barack Obama.

Biden said the talks were “important,” “completely open, frank and straightforward,” Persad-Bissessar said: “Both of you mentioned being very frank. I would say that it was brutal, but at the end of the day there was consensus and together we share much in common: in terms of our people, in terms of our culture. Indeed our jurisprudence and our language.”

May 29, 2013

Caricom News Network