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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Congratulations Barbados... on your 44th anniversary

Barbados celebrates 44th anniversary of independence
by Oscar Ramjeet

Barbados, which is known as Little England, will on Tuesday, November 30, celebrate its 44th anniversary of independence. It was at midnight on November 29, 1966, the Union Jack was lowered and replaced by the Bajan flag.

It was veteran politician Errol Barrow who saw the country into independence having followed up from work done by Grantley Adams.

On the eve of the 44th anniversary the country is experiencing grave financial difficulties, forcing the government to introduce "belt tightening" measures for the next fiscal year, including an increase in value added tax (VAT) and the introduction of a new prime minister, Freundel Stuart, who succeeded David Thompson, who died a month ago from pancreatic cancer.

Oscar Ramjeet is an attorney at law who practices extensively throughout the wider Caribbean 
Stuart, who is the eighth prime minister of Barbados, is not known on the international stage; in fact, he is not even heard of regionally. It is not certain whether he is of the calibre of his predecessors like Barrow, Tom Adams, Bernard St John, Erskine Sandiford, Owen Arthur and Thompson. Barrow had two stints between November 1966 to September 1976 and May 1986 to 1987 when he passed.

Barbados is the leading tourist island in the Caribbean -- famous for its white sand beaches; beautiful resorts, including Sandy Lane where Tiger Woods had his wedding; friendly people; very little or no crime; a sound judicial and legal system and, above all, a sober government and is one of the few countries in the region where there are no reports of corruption by government officials.

"Little England" is also the country where the royal family and the British aristocrats vacation from time to time. It is one of the most populated countries in the planet -- having a population nearly 300,000 in a 166 square mile area and an English writer once jokingly said that the island is so small that Garfield Sobers had to be careful not to hit the ball out of the island into the sea.

It is also famous for its high living standard and the government has a well organised family plan and currently has the lowest birth rate in the region.

Speaking about cricket, Barbados has produced a large number of world known and outstanding cricketers, so much so that during independence celebrations a Bajan squad challenged a World XI. It seems that the country produced the most cricketing knights in the Commonwealth. Among them are: Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Clyde Walcott, and Sir Conrad Hunte. The other outstanding cricketers are: Malcolm Marshall, opening batsmen, Desmond Haynes, and Gordon Greenidge, pacers Wesley Hall, Charlie Griffith, and Joel Garner. Also in the spotlight were Seymour Nurse and Cammie Smith. Not to mention Collie Smith, who unfortunately died in a road accident in the United Kingdom in his prime.

Barbados is a melting pot, where nationals from all over the world live, mainly because it has been the hub of regional and international organisations, such as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, which hosts the Faculty of Law where the region's 7,000 lawyers received their Bachelor of Laws Degrees. Students cannot secure their LLB degrees from the University of Guyana, and other universities in the region.

The United States Embassy in Barbados services the entire Eastern Caribbean, and so do a few other international organisations.

Barbados is also famous for flying fish and, because the country wanted flying fish to remain a national icon, was engaged in a battle with Trinidad and Tobago, which had arrested several Barbadian fishermen, who they accused of fishing in the territorial waters of the twin island republic.

However, the Permanent Council of Arbitration has come to a decision and has established a maritime boundary between the two countries.

The land of flying fish and cricketers is not without criticism. It is said that the government is not too friendly to other Caribbean nationals and at times has breached the CARICOM agreement on the freedom of movement when it ordered several Caribbean nationals, mainly Guyanese, to leave the country -- many of them had spent several years working there.

Trinidad and Tobago is known as the land of steelband and calypso, but Barbadians are trying to compete with the twin island republic when they introduced Crop Over -- a annual carnival type festival. They have also produced a few outstanding calypsonians including Red Plastic Bag and the Mighty Gabby.

There are also a few spots that attract tourists -- Nelson Street -- the street that never sleeps, famous for night life and where one can get fried fish and barbeque chicken at any time in the night.

Congratulations, Barbados, on your 44th anniversary.

November 30, 2010


Monday, November 29, 2010

Mediation in Caribbean justice

By Abiola Inniss, LLB, LLM, ACIArb

The use of alternative dispute resolution in the Caribbean is as yet in a fledgling state and there is little information about it in most parts of the region, except for Jamaica, which has a considerably developed ADR scheme that focuses on mediation, and there is substantial ignorance about what constitutes alternative dispute resolution.

Abiola Inniss LLB, LLM (Business Law), mediator, and arbitrator, is a legal consultant in business law, and law teacher, who resides in Georgetown, Guyana, with an established practice in Alternative Dispute Resolution 
While Jamaica’s dispute resolution foundation has made significant strides in the promotion of peace and reconciliation in various communities, as well as in providing useful support to its justice system, the example has not resounded strongly across the region. Caribbean justice systems and seekers of justice remain strongly entrenched in the adversarial, combative methods of resolving matters, even with all the attendant difficulties and disappointments which often accompany litigation.

It needs to be clear that ADR usually applies to civil matters (person to person non-criminal claims) and that, where ADR is applied in the criminal jurisdiction, it is known as restorative justice and remains distinct from the other ADR methods, comprising conciliation, negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. In selecting mediation for particular attention in the discussion of Caribbean justice, it is intended that this form of dispute settlement might be considered within the context of the issues that trouble the region at community levels within CARICOM countries and their impact on the justice system.

A cinematic view of community life in any Caribbean nation would reveal a culture that contains a mixture of stereotypes, prejudices, superstitions and beliefs, which often compound the issues of what justice is and what is expected of it in the mind of the average citizen.

For example, it is common perception that a woman’s birthright is the home and that this right is absolute, her physical right is unquestionable while in her home; however, if she is violated in any way while outside her home, perceptions tend to vary as to whether the violations were of her own making or whether she contributed to it by being outside her home (see Caribbean legal educator, Hazel Thompson Ahye - ‘Women and Family Law and Related Issues’ for further discussion).

This idea, among others, has extended from the grassroot levels to the halls of justice, with consequences ranging from the interesting to the appalling.

Mediation comes into the justice system as a means of tempering the dispensing of justice according to fixed principles and judicial discretions and gives disputants the power to discuss their problems under professional guidance and to come to a resolution of their own making. It also gives a means of hearing to those affected by prejudice and other forms of unreasoned or unreasonable thinking, so that a path to common understanding might be laid.

It has been found that parties retain a high level of loyalty to their settlements when reached in this way and that there is better opportunity of conciliation afterwards.

The obvious advantage is that there is a lesser burden on the courts to deal with petty matters that often permeate the Magistrates courts and which could be dealt with by mediation. Issues of common corridor littering, noise nuisance, market vending disputes, family disputes concerning common dwelling and other similar problems can be addressed in this manner.

The overall benefit to the system of justice is that the municipal courts are freer to deal with more jurisprudentially substantial issues and that a culture of peaceful resolution is recognized at all levels of society. The economic side of justice dispensation internationally also favours the use of ADR very strongly and the current trend across Europe with the budget cuts has made it imperative for governments to find other means of addressing the resolution of disputes.

In the United Kingdom, the government announced proposals to close 54 county courts and 103 magistrates courts in order to save some 15.3 million pounds sterling in annual operational costs. The Courts Minister Jonathan Djanogly is quoted as saying, “Not all disputes need to be resolved in court . I want to explore whether more people can resolve their disputes in a way that leads to faster and more satisfactory solutions.”

Lord Woolf FCIArb, the architect of the major reform of the UK justice system, which led to new civil procedure rules in 1998, is also quoted as saying, “The availability and use of mediation is always important but the present financial situation has made its use, whenever possible, essential. No one can afford to ignore the benefits it offers.”

In the Caribbean, Guyana recently passed the Mediation Bill, which among other things makes the use of court-connected mediation mandatory for some kinds of disputes. Experience has taught, however, that it sometimes requires more than the passing of legislation to create a new cultural norm. The application of the law may demand conformity from a party to it but does not translate to wide cultural acceptance of an idea and many examples of this abound worldwide, the ongoing debate over the US case of Roe V Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) points out this idiosyncrasy.

There needs to be region-wide promotion of the concept of alternative dispute resolution and the particular use of mediation in the court systems and in the communities. Citizens need to see and feel the benefits for themselves in order to promote a culture of mediation, negotiation and conciliation Arbitration is hardly a community based option since it is more suitable for business arrangements and industrial and commercial disputes.

The concept and use of mediation in Caribbean justice requires far more effort and application than is currently exerted. Certainly it is to be hoped that Caribbean leaders in the legal field and in government will not wait for the gates of perdition to be opened upon our society before embracing alternative dispute resolution.

November 29, 2010


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Haiti's Election November 28, 2010: I am voting for Michel Martelly!

I am voting for Michel Martelly!
By Jean Hervé Charles

The election of November 28, 2010 represents a seminal transitional corner for Haiti in the Caribbean (it shares that auspicious Sunday with Ivory Coast in Africa). The island country will either go back to the squalor of the past under a new cover or it will leap forward into a renaissance that will bring not only Haiti but the whole Caribbean into a sustainable growth mode.

With its ten million creative and resilient (albeit uneducated citizens), its natural beauty of gigantic mountains surrounding the villages and the cities, Haiti under a proper government can become the Singapore of the Caribbean. The question is whether the retrograde culture of Duvalier, Aristide and Preval that has been the staple politics looming over Haiti during the past sixty years can be uprooted to plant a culture of solidarity and hospitality towards and amongst each other?

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: 
2010 can rightfully being described as an annum miserabilis for Haiti. The successive wave of misery started at the dawn of the New Year with an earthquake that shook the land under the capital and the surrounding cities, killing more than 300.000 people and sending 1.5 million citizens to live under tents in fetid condition.

The earthquake during the winter was followed by flooding during the spring, hurricane during the summer and an outbreak of cholera during the fall, causing more than one thousand deaths and sixteen thousand infected and in hospitalization. Under those circumstances, the Haitian people have remained calm, resilient and conducting business as usual as imposed by the obligation of daily survival.

Recently, the people of the northern part of the country, endowed with a culture of defiance inherited from Henry Christophe, the first Haitian king, have embarked into a fight to derail the election -- dubbed a selection -- and to demand the withdrawal of the UN forces – in particular the Nepalese contingent accused of bringing the cholera virus into Haiti and the Caribbean. The same contingent is also accused of the murder by hanging of a young lad who used to do errands for the army personnel.

In that environment, nineteen candidates are vying to become the next president of Haiti. The five front runners represent a canvas of the old guard reconfigured with new color plus two new kids on the block: M for Martelly and M for Manigat.

If the eyes of the world can suffice to protect the ballots against the manipulation of the government for its preferred candidate, I am predicting the last electoral fight will be between the two Ms: Martelly and Manigat.

Mrs Mirlande Manigat, the spouse of the former President Manigat, holds a PhD in political science from the Sorbonne in France; she is the vice dean of a private university, Quisqeya University. She was riding a wave of good will from the populace until a story from a Mexican newspaper indicated she has entered into a secret deal with the Preval government to share the political cake with her, holding the presidency while yielding the prime ministry to Preval.

Joseph Martelly has been the Haitian bad boy, the equivalent of Howard Stern in the Haitian media. As the leader of a musical band named Sweet Micky, he did not hesitate to confront the mores of the Haitian culture that refrain from vulgarity and plain language. Yet as a candidate, he pointed the right finger at the de facto apartheid condition existing in Haiti. On television, in the national debate he accused the other candidates of being part of the problem for presiding one way or the other in the policy making that led to the disastrous Haitian situation prevailing in the last twenty years.

I met Martelly recently as we were boarding the same plane traveling from Kennedy airport to Port au Prince, Haiti. I told him of my fascination for his vision of a Haiti hospitable to all. He should nevertheless send his mea culpa to the people and to the Church for the dirty language used as a non candidate. He was unrepentant. “The other candidates must first send their mea culpa for their disrespect and their callousness in their treatment of the Haitian people!”

I have listened to the young people. His voice reasoned amongst them. I have listened to the poor and the deserted; he has a following amongst them. I have followed those who are disgusted of the more things change, more they remain the same, Martelly represents for them a breath of fresh air!

As an advocate of change for Haiti, a change that starts at the bottom to engulf all the citizens, those who live in the abandoned countryside as well as those who live in the squalid cities, I am voting on Sunday for Michel Martelly. I am predicting he will be the wild card who will upset the status quo inside the country as well as the so called friends of Haiti to force the country to embark into the road of modernity as Singapore did in Asia some twenty years ago!

November 27, 2010


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Time for Thanksgiving

The Bahama Journal Editorial

Those who would be Christians routinely give the Almighty thanks for all that transpires in their lives. They are – so to speak- men and women who are imbued with an ethos that calls on them to serve, struggle and sacrifice.

Christianity is also that kind of faith that is grounded in a philosophy that calls on humankind to struggle and serve as it waits for the coming of that day when it will be reconciled and reconnected with its Maker.

Coming with this philosophy or worldview are other notions that are profoundly and deeply rooted in the Torah; words to the effect that human beings made in the image of God are enjoined to walk humbly, do justice and love God.

It is with these thoughts in mind that today, we note a matter that is of high moment not only for our great neighbor to our immediate north, but also to people like us who would emulate the American Way. The matter to which we refer concerns that uniquely American day that has been set aside for Thanksgiving.

As President Obama says in his proclamation, “As Americans, we hail from every part of the world. While we observe traditions from every culture, Thanksgiving Day is a unique national tradition we all share. Its spirit binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings.”

We say Amen to that sentiment.

Indeed, we today take –as it were- a break of sorts from our now routine litany of lament concerning how crime has run amok or [for that matter] how this or that leader is not doing what they should.

Instead, we pause to take note that while things are bad, there is still much that is going quite right. And for sure, there is absolutely no doubting of the truth in the proposition that Bahamians are – for the most part- hard-working, law-abiding citizens.

In addition, while crime seems to be spiraling, there is a sense we are getting that serves to underscore the point that people have not gotten so far jaded that nothing is either being done or contemplated.

Lots of truly good things are happening; and for these thanksgiving is absolutely necessary. And so, we give thanks. Indeed, we have a myriad of other reasons to show how we are always so very optimistic.

Assuredly, we would also venture that most Bahamians would respond in the positive were they to be asked whether they are Christians. And for sure, most of these people would readily say that – as Christians- they are called to give thanks in all things and for all things.

This implies that Bahamians are absolutely predisposed to join in rituals and routines that reference thanksgiving and harvest.

Indeed, there are numbers of old-timers who vividly recall the times when farm produce was the ready staple destined for ‘harvest’.

Here of late, one of the signs of the times has to do with the fact that some people now bring –as harvest- some of the canned goods they purchased from this or that super-market.

So, while some things might have changed, Bahamians –in their vast majority- celebrate Thanksgiving in a manner that is quite reminiscent of how Americans do the same thing.

Indeed, Thanksgiving as we know it, uses the American model as its ever-ready template.

As research reveals, “Thanksgiving Day in the United States is possibly the premier U.S. family celebration — typically celebrated at home or in a community setting and marked with a substantial feast…”

We note that, “Thanksgiving provides an occasion for reunions of friends and families, and it affords Americans a shared opportunity to express gratitude for the freedoms they enjoy as well as food, shelter and other good things.”

We also know that, “Many Americans also take time to prepare and serve meals to the needy at soup kitchens, churches and homeless shelters. Others donate to food drives or participate in charity fundraisers; in fact, hundreds of nonprofit groups throughout the country hold Thanksgiving Day charity races called “Turkey Trots.”

“And on a more worldly note, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the “holiday season” that continues through New Year’s Day. The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.”

And for sure, we are also quite aware that, “Every year, the president issues a proclamation designating the fourth Thursday in November (November 27th. this year); a National Day of Thanksgiving.

And finally, “It is an official federal holiday, and virtually all government offices and schools — and most businesses — are closed…”
Of course, stores here in the Bahamas will not be closed.

And for sure, while some Bahamians will remember to give thanks; some others –sadly – will eat, drink and be merry’ all the while remaining blissfully oblivious of the reason for the celebration.

November 27th, 2010

The Bahama Journal Editorial

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Haiti and the UN: To promote social progress and better standards of life?

By Rebecca Theodore

Not even Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy can sum up the magnitude of Haiti’s nightmare. Yes! Hell has a local existence in today’s day. Hell is the doomed misery of Haiti. ‘Prisons built with stones of law... Brothels with bricks of religion...’ Excess sorrow magnified in multitudes dying the death of common worms in a great age of modern medicine where cholera is akin to a common cold in the west.

Rebecca Theodore was born on the north coast of the Caribbean island of Dominica and resides in Toronto, Canada. A national security and political columnist, she holds a BA and MA in Philosophy. She can be reached at 
Reluctantly enough, the occupants of that hell are also the UN with pitchforks, drinking blood sweetened with tears, embellishing their corporate wants in bureaucratic inefficiency and waste. And like the great whore of Babylon arrayed in purple and scarlet, beckoning with golden pitchers filled with abominations and filthiness, their babbled voices penetrating thick billows of smoke - ‘ we need $164-million (US) more in special aid’ to treat a disease which was reported about two months ago, while a people and culture plummet into eternal dust.

Lurching from flood to earthquake to hurricane and now epidemic in the space of mere months, Haiti has not only emerged as the richest poorest state on the planet but it is now the raging cries of critics everywhere that ‘the UN belongs in a museum next to the League of Nations.’

This criticism no doubt must be widely hailed by people everywhere because in the same way the League of Nations failed to prevent the scourge of World War II, leading instead to added pain and suffering on all humankind, the UN has instead chosen to embezzle billions of dollars in fraud to satisfy their corporate ambitions, ignoring the perils of the Haitian people and humanity on a whole.

Judging from the incompetence and corruption in Haiti, it is easy to see why the UN is a testament of failure in calling for additional aid for a disease that can be treated with simple oral rehydration salts or antibiotics. To ask why people are dying like flies in a modern age of medicine and why they waited so long impels our thoughts back to the Congo sex scandal that went on for more than a year, even after UN officials had knowledge of allegations that their peacekeepers were raping children as young as 12, soliciting prostitutes and engaging in child abuse.

Hundreds of images of child pornography involving Congolese and Haitian children are satisfying the wants and lust of pedophiles on the internet, having been placed there from the caches found on the laptop of French UN civilians. Sadly enough, up to this day not one UN soldier has been charged, thus justifying their actions as good and righteous.

To add to this discontent, the UN also failed to act in Liberia’s seven year civil war in which hundreds of thousands were butchered. UN peacekeepers sent to Rwanda failed to prevent the murder and torture of nearly one million Rwandans. The UN failed to condemn slavery in Sudan, and failed miserably in Sierra Leone. The UN failed in Angola, in Kashmir, and in Colombia. The UN has failed to prevent genocide or provide assistance in Darfur and now we are summoned with the mother of all failures -- Haiti. This is no genocide by natural selection as many choose to claim and Nepalese troops are not the scapegoats of the blame game. It is the failed and corrupt administration of the UN.

Haiti will prove that the UN’s mission of maintaining international peace, advancing cooperation in solving economic, social and humanitarian problems, and promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom is nothing but a charade… a metaphor swallowed in the bowels of political jargon to mask the passing of time. Admonishing people to wash their hands and drink boiled or potable water defies human reasoning in a country where people haven’t had a proper meal in months -- how can they afford soap?

Educating the population on cholera prevention or learning the proper hygiene concerning any epidemic will be a big task in Haiti because mistrust of colonial representatives like the UN will forever deny the psychological and physical conditions needed to understand the destructiveness of the epidemic, as medical science and concern for health is imposed by an occupying order that makes it impossible for education to produce social change, because education grows out of a colonial environment in which the preservation of lives, and the maintenance of the social structure can never be maintained.

Not only did the UN ignore the fact that a perturbing effect in one part of the system has a disastrous and far reaching consequence, which is presently mired in an epidemic that now transgresses the Haitian boundaries, making the entire Caribbean at risk; but has now evoked a new wave of political violence for the poor and destitute in Haiti, who have seen nothing but hunger and death for more than 10 months.

As fate would have it, United Nation troops are protecting and fulfilling the duties of only UN workers as has been customary. For this reason, Haitians must be obliged to seek solace in the leadership of Dr Mirlande Manigat in the upcoming presidential elections -- the first female who will ever to be elected to that office, as there must be change, not only from the corrupt dictators that have ruled Haiti for decades but also from the binding shackles and corrupt management of the UN.

And if anyone asks where hell is -- there you have it... beyond Dante's imagination --
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate (Abandon all hope ye who enter here)
Through Haiti you pass into everlasting pain
And into the darkness of daylight
But to the UN I say --
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven

November 24, 2010


Monday, November 22, 2010

Should Haiti become a UN Protectorate?

By Winston D. Munnings

With presidential elections to be held in Haiti on November 28, if there was ever a time to revisit the concept of Haiti becoming a UN Protectorate State is now. And why not? There is no other nation in the Western Hemisphere that has endured the adversities and misfortunes as that of the Republic of Haiti and its people. No other country!

After almost two decades in the Diplomatic Service of The Bahamas, Winston D. Munnings retired as Consul General. As a fine art photographer he now refers to himself as a generalist but has a passion for nature and wildlife photography. A former broadcast journalist and news editor (Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas), he is an alumnus of the Catholic University of America, Washington DC, and the University of Miami.Haiti’s problems and the problems of the Haitian people, however, did not start on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, killing more than 250,000 and leaving 1.5 million of its people homeless. Haiti’s problems started more than a half century ago under a merciless dictatorship, a poorly planned economy, greed, corruption, isolation … and the list goes on and on for this long neglected nation, which achieved its independence in 1804.

Fast forward all this now to 2010 (as Haiti is finally the focus of the world’s attention) and just one week shy of national elections there to elect a new president. There are undoubtedly more questions than answers by all concerned (Haitians included) about Haiti’s future and (perhaps) more suggestions than ever before as to how the new leaders might proceed to bring this ravaged nation into the 21st century.

The question of a UN protectorate status for Haiti is relatively old news, but one that shows promise for Haiti in the long run. In fact, some in the international community have already called for the creation of a UN protectorate for Haiti to provide this already fragile nation with stability and leadership as they recover and rebuild from the devastation of the last eleven months.

Others, of course, are strongly rejecting this option, viewing it as a threat to Haiti’s autonomy and sovereignty. What autonomy, one might ask? How is the current situation in this island nation benefitting the republic and its people? How long must the Haitian people continue to suffer while we intellectualize about their future?

Before the January earthquake, Haiti was still the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Given what has happened since (an assault last month by Hurricane Tomas and a deadly cholera outbreak that followed) the people of the Republic of Haiti are worse off now than ever before. The people of Haiti are hurting as never before.

Haiti needs help. Haiti needs guidance. Given the republic’s present dilemma, Haiti needs to be taken care of as a parent would take care of a child until that child is in position to take care of himself.

CARICOM, France, the United States and the future president of Haiti need to come together early 2011 under the auspices of a UN sponsored conference (now that Haiti is finally the focus of the world’s attention) to take a review of Haiti’s future and the future of its people. Critical to that review should be to assess the short, medium and long term impact on Haiti under UN Protectorate Status similar to that (perhaps) of the Kosovo model. To this end, it might be a good idea for the special envoy to Haiti (President Bill Clinton) to invoke the fundamentals of the UN Charter and let this world assembly take serious charge of Haiti’s monstrous predicament.

It is not unusual for the United Nations to play a significant role is matters of this kind. Although the circumstances vary in each case, take a look at Protectorates under direct UN administration since the early 1960s: (1) United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA), 1962-1963 - United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), 1992-1993 - United Nations Transitional Authority for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), 1996-1998 - United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), 1999 – Current, and United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), 1999-2002.

This is not the time to talk of Haiti’s autonomy as a sovereign entity. This is the time to talk of Haiti’s survival and the survival of its industrious and hardworking people who deserve, like other peoples, the opportunity to live and to be recognized and treated as human beings.

November 22, 2010


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why Caricom needs to know of T&T's illegal spying politics

By Rickey Singh

PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago would have done herself and her Government a whole lot of good by going public last Tuesday with an apology to Caricom partners for her recent unfortunate and insensitive statements that linked emergency disaster aid to likely benefits to her country.

Without any rhetorical choreography, she declared during Radio Jamaica's Beyond the Headlines: "I do apologise for the statements that have been taken in this regard. I remain committed to regional integration and to our Caricom brothers and sisters."

What she now needs to consider — bearing in mind that her domestic opponents will continue to exploit that careless political stance — is to sensitise Caricom governments to the uncovering of an illegal spying network with the lists of unsuspecting victims reaching the highest political office to ordinary law-abiding citizens.

The reason such an initiative should be considered is not a matter of courtesy but because the national security interests of Trinidad and Tobago's community partners may well have been compromised by the spying epidemic that involved State-funded intelligence agencies.

Let the following account help to inform what went so terribly wrong when illegal spying on law-abiding citizens, pursued under the guise of battling crime and ensuring "national security", got out of control:

If the problem were not as nationally and regionally challenging, a relevant news item last week could have been dismissed as perhaps an error, or a joke.

Some quick checking by this columnist with the Caribbean Community Secretariat in Georgetown and Caricom's Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) made it clear that it was neither an error nor a laughing matter.

The dust had not yet settled on a parliamentary exposure on November I2 about very extensive and intrusive spying activities of State agencies under the previous People's National Movement Government of ex-Prime Minister Patrick Manning, when there came a surprising press release last Monday from the Community Secretariat.

It announced the holding of a five-day training workshop -- which was then currently occurring in Port-of-Sain, involving 20 immigration officers from 11 Caricom countries, in addition to seven law enforcement officers from the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT).

Under normal circumstances, such a news release from the Community Secretariat would simply have been taken as notification of another work programme of IMPACS. This is the agency which was established to serve the security needs of the region when we hosted Cricket World Cup 2007.

However, given the grave implications of the violations of the fundamental rights of citizens across all races, political parties, social classes and professions by the illegal spying network, it was ironic that SAUTT was involved in the so-called 'train-the-trainer' workshop then underway in Port-of-Spain.

Money and arms

Granted, the arrangements for the workshop would have preceded the November 12 statement in Parliament by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar about the shocking illegal spying operations in which SAUTT was initially involved.

There also came the exposure of even more disturbing illegal activities by an uncovered Secret Intelligence Agency (SIA) that was out of control, with millions of dollars and a quantity of sophisticated weapons at its disposal.

It may perhaps have been too late for either the Caricom Secretariat and/or the Trinidad and Tobago Government to pull the plug on the five-day 'train-the-trainer' workshop at SAUTT's Camuto-based training facilities.

Nevertheless, it's difficult to ignore the insensitivity on the part of those who have collaborated on the training project with SAUTT as a core partner, as if oblivious to the negative image of this State agency now facing a doubtful future.

Unlike the alarming details the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the region in general came to learn by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar's disclosure of the SIA's illegal spying activities, the public had already been alerted to the disturbing functioning of SAUTT.

For instance, that the six-month-old People's Partnership Government (PPG) of Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar felt compelled, on the basis of controversial reports received, to terminate the services of the former director of SAUTT as well as to significantly overhaul its mode of operations, pending further decision on its future.

The Workshop

This, then, is the same security body that was involved with IMPACS for last week's training programme.

Involved in collaborative efforts for the workshop are CARICAD (Centre for Development and Administration) and DIFID (British Department for International Development).

While SAUTT remains under the microscope with a doubtful future, and the more controversial SIA has been shut down while the Government finalises plans for a structured probe, a formal request is to be made to the director of public prosecutions to pursue actions he deems legally relevant.

There remains, of course, another dimension to the saga of Trinidad and Tobago's "spying politics" in relation to the security interest of Caricom as a whole.

It is simply not easy to accept that the implications of the gross human rights violations involved in the illegal spying politics in Trinidad and Tobago may have been overlooked in relation to their consequences for Caricom partners.

The reality is that whoever is the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago also holds lead responsibility for "crime and security" in Caricom's quasi-cabinet.

That was the case under Patrick Manning's watch during the past five years in particular when the now recognised 'spying epidemic' was spreading with all the negative effects of illegal interceptions of telephone, e-mail and other forms of communication.

In the circumstances, it is felt that Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, who currently shoulders lead responsibility for crime and security in Caricom, has a moral obligation to share as much as possible of the illegal spying activities with her community counterparts.

Question of relevance is: How can a Caricom prime minister, with lead portfolio responsibility for crime and security, be depended upon to be competent and committed in fulfilling his/her mandate, when at home there are a multiplicity of examples involving illegal spying activities that violate the basic rights and dignity of law-abiding nationals?

November 21, 2010


Friday, November 19, 2010

Chinese take away?

By Sir Ronald Sanders

Problems have emerged in the Bahamas over the number of Chinese workers on a project funded in part by the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the People’s Republic of China.

The original number of Chinese workers appears extraordinarily high – 8,150 even though there is an undertaking from the owners of the project that the peak number of foreign workers, at any given time, will not exceed 5,000 non Bahamians.

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community. Reponses to: www.sirronaldsanders.comRightly, Bahamas’ Prime Minister, Hubert Ingraham, has raised concerns about the large number of Chinese workers. His concerns are particularly relevant against the background that, according to the International Monetary Fund “tourist arrivals declined by 10 percent and foreign direct investment fell by over 30 percent, leading to a sharp contraction in domestic activity and a large rise in unemployment” in the Bahamas in 2009.

Construction is a critical engine of growth in any economy, but especially so in small economies where payments to local workers and suppliers keep money in circulation over a wide area including supermarkets, transport providers, clothing and footwear stores, real estate rentals and banks.

If 8,150 Bahamians – or close to it as possible – could be employed in this project, it would definitely be a fillip to the Bahamian economy and help to expand domestic activity and create jobs directly and indirectly.

The issue troubled Ingraham enough for him to travel to China to raise the matter with the Chinese government and return to the Bahamas with the news that he had succeeded in securing $200 million dollars more for construction workers and for Bahamian sub-contractors, raising the total that would be allocated to them to $400 million.

How this translates into jobs for Bahamians and a reduction in the number of Chinese workers is unclear, but note should be taken that, not surprisingly, the opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has characterised Ingraham’s journey to China as “a failure”. To be fair, it should also be pointed out that it was the PLP which introduced this project, known as Baha Mar, when it served as the government.

Baha Mar, projected to cost $2.5 billion, is a very large tourist project. On completion it is expected to rival the Bahamas’ biggest tourist plant, Atlantis, which was developed by Kerzner International. The operator behind Baha Mar is Caesars Entertainment Inc, a private gaming corporation that owns and operates over 50 casinos and seven golf courses under several brands. Prior to November 18, the Company was called Harrah’s Entertainment.

Ceasar’s, like every commercial business, puts its profitability first. In seeking financing from Ex-Im Bank of China, they apparently agreed that the work force, in effect, would be 71% Chinese and 29% Bahamian – a bitter pill to swallow in the best of economic times and certainly indigestible in the present economic climate.

No one in the Bahamas or elsewhere doubts the contribution that Baha Mar will make to the Bahamas economy in the short and long term, but the conditions of the Chinese loan rankles on the requirement for such a large number of Chinese workers.

After all, this is not aid. It is not even emergency or disaster aid when a high component of Chinese material and people would be acceptable. It is purely and simply a commercial contract, lending money that will have to be repaid.

The only reason one can surmise for the insistence on such a large number of Chinese workers, vastly outnumbering Bahamian ones, is that the Chinese will work for less and trade union conditions, and rights, would not apply in their case thus reducing the cost of the project.

This commentary is less concerned about the local politics of the Bahamas that are involved in this issue; more qualified people can comment on them. It is more concerned with the present and future relations between Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries and China.

The experience of African countries, notably Angola recently, in relation to China’s use of an overwhelming number of Chinese workers, shows a strain in their relations with China. In 2006, the former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki famously remarked: Africa must guard against falling into a "colonial relationship" with China.

I have long argued that CARICOM countries should negotiate with China at least a long-term framework treaty that covers aid, trade and investment. It should be a treaty along the lines of the Lomé and Cotonou Agreements that existed with the European Union.

As in all their bargaining with third countries, the CARICOM states would secure better terms if they negotiated with China as a collective than if each of them tried to bargain alone. And, if they succeeded in settling a treaty with China, issues such as the paramountcy of local labour in commercial projects and in loan-funded projects could be settled upfront, as would issues such as the supremacy of labour laws and respect for human rights in the countries where such projects are undertaken.

To negotiate such a Treaty with China, however, CARICOM countries have to do one of two things: those who now recognise Taiwan over China will have to drop that stance so that there is a united CARICOM recognition of China only; or those that recognise China should proceed to negotiate the Treaty with China leaving the others to join when they can.

There is a small window of opportunity left to negotiate a meaningful treaty with China. As China grows more powerful economically crowding out CARICOM’s traditional aid donors and investment partners, it will become very difficult for small Caribbean countries to bargain for the best terms even on commercial projects.

Beggar thy neighbour policies will get CARICOM countries nowhere in the long term and the time is right for all CARICOM countries to strengthen their relations with China on the basis of a structured and predictable treaty.

My friend and fellow writer, Anthony Hall, wrote recently that Hubert Ingraham’s “challenge to China” on the issue of the 8,150 Chinese workers “is precedent setting... and it behoves all leaders in our region to support, and be prepared to emulate, the stand he’s taking: for together we stand, divided we fall”.

China has itself faced the challenges of division; it might – just might - respect Caribbean unity.

November 19, 2010


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Of Sir Edwin, CARICOM and regional integration

by Carlos James, Esq.

CARICOM Secretary General Sir Edwin Carrington has had his share of work cut out for him. However, after nearly 20 years as head of the Caribbean Community, there is little to be excited about in terms of progress made towards full integration.

This, however, does not minimise the significance of the ceremonial activities held in Antigua last week to mark his knighthood, one of the highest honours of an individual’s contribution to national life. Some may rightly argue that a Caribbean Community Award would have been even more symbolic and appropriate, considering his contribution to the region spanning nearly two decades.

Carlos James, Esq. is a barrister-at-law and former journalistIt was interesting to read Sir Edwin’s comments, admitting that the institution had failed to bring home its policies to the common Caribbean man, who simply does not see or understand the workings of CARICOM. If I may suggest, Sir Edwin’s comments on CARICOM’s failed public relations policy is more than just a lack of public awareness. What can CARICOM really put forward to the region and flaunt as effective integration policies?

Yes, the people of the region understand what CARICOM means to them, what it implies and what it requires of them, but what exactly is being done, where are the functional policies?

Frankly, there is not much to look forward to from CARICOM as a regional entity. It has lost its sparkle. No longer are we hearing the chorus of regional leaders, who once sang the same tune of regionalism, a single market and a single economic space.

Interestingly enough, Sir Edwin has admitted that the framework to make the CARICOM Single Market (CSM) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) fully operational is in place. In what can be considered a diplomatic cry for help, Sir Edwin confessed that more thrust is needed for both initiatives to take firm steps towards realisation.

In plainer language, for farmers in North Leeward and North Windward, and other rural communities across the region who want better regional access to markets for trade purposes, the vision of a Caribbean single market is failing because of the lack of interest from regional leaders.

CARICOM has become stagnant and cannot handle the surmountable challenges of our region’s changing political economy. It is swiftly withering into a failed institution lacking the energy, vision and the political will to carry forward its mandate which is central to regionalism - The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. In no uncertain terms can a framework for integration survive solely on the technical machinery of the CARICOM Secretariat without the political will of the region’s leaders. The structure for the integration process is merely skeletal, crippled, non-functional and hangs on life support.

No amount of media relations, as Sir Edwin envisaged, can connect the people of the region to something that lacks any form of functional capacity without coming across in an ostentatious way. The need for reforms at every faction of the CARICOM fibre is needed.

I must agree that formalising a single economic space is no easy task, the difficulties faced by the powerful European Union is evidence of this, but we must be reminded that the Caribbean Community is characterised by a people of common cultural and political identity. The socio-political dynamics of our region puts us in a more suitable position to establish and benefit from such a union.

Even the big capitalist countries are moving away from monopolistic ideals and trade protectionism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ahead of this week’s G20 meeting in Seoul, has warned that the greater danger facing the global economy is a return to trade protectionism. So why is CARICOM failing to further develop its single market and economic space? Where is the political will?

St Vincent’s Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and perhaps a few others, stand out as the lone batsmen at the crease, so vocal and tirelessly struggling to add to the score of the opening political giants of Eric Williams, Tom Adams, Errol Barrow, Michael Manley, et al.

It was Dr Gonsalves in 2003 who, while presenting a lecture in Trinidad to commemorate CARICOM’s 30th Anniversary, questioned:

-- What is the most advanced model of regional integration that the political market nationally can bear?

-- Do the leaders of the region -- political, economic, community and social -- and the people themselves possess the political will and readiness to go beyond the parameters of the individual nation-states and embrace a union deeper than that which currently exists?

-- What is to be done right now to construct, or prepare for the construction of a deeper union between CARICOM countries, or at least between those who are ready and determined, to go forward?

The Caribbean community has yet to answer. CARICOM is in retreat and this makes it hard for the region to get its voice heard. We need to reinvigorate the CSME process or CARICOM will suffer.

Instead of moving towards full integration as a region, we are seeing prime ministers becoming more nationalistic in their policies and utterances. These unreasoning allegiances are insensitive to the harmonisation efforts made by our leaders over the years.

I note the recent tongue-tied comments by Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar while the hurricane ravaged islands lay open and vulnerable after the onslaughts of hurricane Tomas.

PM Persad-Bissessar, has made similar gaffes in the past, including her now infamous ATM reference at the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in July. Her utterances on regional matters have been extraordinarily undiplomatic for someone holding the office of prime minister and Commonwealth Chair-in-Office. It is hard to distinguish her constructive utterances from insentient reasoning.

Common foreign policy?

Sir Edwin rightly pointed out that the region needs to develop a strategic foreign policy in order to represent itself on the international stage. I am in agreement with the position that co-ordination of such a framework is paramount, but it must be noted that, while some countries take an aggressive approach towards foreign relations, others are quite stagnant and remain passive in befriending new diplomatic allies. We must not be seen as chiding regional countries who take on new focus in forging diplomatic relations with emerging economies.

In fact, we are in trouble if we continue to sit on the laps of traditional allies, who themselves are going further East, seeking new trading partners and political friends. It is important to our sovereignty to move away from this docile form of diplomacy, no country owns us. We need to shift from this conservative foreign policy focus on bilateral relationships and focus on multilateral action.

Not surprisingly, we see foreign policies grounded on national interest, ignoring the obvious regional implications of which Sir Edwin is so concerned about. Relations with China and Taiwan among our regional states is a never ending game of diplomatic hopscotch, while some continue to act as political stooges to the US and other G8 countries.

A point of interest is the headlines this week where the US and Britain are courting both India and China. The West has turned to the East. So what is so wrong with diplomatic relations with Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), Cuba, Venezuela and oil-rich Iran?

Caribbean countries need to let go of this erroneous belief of indirect dependency on the so-called powerful traditional allies and provide a common foreign policy agenda that can attract the courting eyes of industrialised and emerging economies.

We have made many strides as a region, let’s not turn the wheel back. Let us continue the process of region-wide engagement on the issue integration. There are obvious lessons that the OECS can offer the larger bloc.

November 18, 2010


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Haitian cholera outbreak: A preventable tragedy?

by Joseph Crupi, COHA Research Associate

On October 21, a case of cholera was identified in Haiti for the first time in at least 50 years. The disease spread rapidly through the Artibonite River basin, and by November 9, more than 580 people had died, and thousands more were gravely ill. The outbreak has raised questions about the international community’s efforts to prevent the spread of disease in post-earthquake Haiti, and many agencies and organizations have faced criticism for their failure to prevent the crisis. In order to evaluate the accuracy of these criticisms, it is important to carefully analyze the steps taken by health workers, governments, international organizations, and NGOs to prevent such a tragedy.

Health Workers Downplay Cholera Threat

In the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake, the leaders of the international health community did not acknowledge cholera as a serious threat. On March 2, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report entitled “Acute Watery Diarrhea and Cholera: Haiti Pre-decision Brief for Public Health Action.” While the report recognized that water-borne diseases could easily spread through Haiti’s poorly-maintained tent cities, it also stated that an outbreak of “cholera [was] extremely unlikely to occur,” largely because the vibrio cholerae bacteria had not been observed in Haiti in over half a century. The report downplayed concerns that the bacteria could be introduced by foreign relief workers or aid shipments and failed to consider that the bacteria might continue to exist undiagnosed in rural communities. In a February radio interview, Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed agreement with the CDC report, saying, “There is no cholera in Haiti, so it would be extremely unlikely that there would be an outbreak of cholera in Haiti, even though you don’t want to completely rule it out, it’s not the first thing that you think of when you think of an outbreak of waterborne disease.”

Health care administrators, trusting the consensus among experts that a cholera outbreak was unlikely, concentrated on more pressing health concerns. Trauma injuries received first priority after the earthquake, and health care specialists also devoted much of their time and resources to treating patients suffering from diabetes, heart disease, HIV, and tuberculosis. Health workers placed a high emphasis on immunization campaigns to prevent measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. A cholera vaccine was available at a cost of only 50 cents a dose, but due to the perceived improbability of an outbreak, health care administrators did not seriously consider widespread distribution to be necessary. Hence, while health workers had the technical capability to prevent an outbreak, they did not have compelling reasons to implement such measures.

Unmet Obligations and Broken Promises?

While health workers did not perceive cholera as an active threat in post-earthquake Haiti, other water-borne diseases did draw significant attention from health agencies. In February, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported, “Sanitation is a massive challenge that must be urgently resolved; an increasing number of diarrhea cases are being reported. If shelter and sanitation are not adequately addressed before the rainy season arrives, the risk of epidemic outbreaks of water-borne and other diseases will increase.” These issues, however, were not sufficiently addressed. In early September, PAHO conducted a survey of health systems in northern Haiti, where the first case of cholera was diagnosed, in order to “identify programs, needs, and gaps in coverage.” A report later released by the institution emphasized that “water and sanitation, provision of clean drinking water, and insufficient health care services” remained serious health issues in the region.

The persistence of these problems is due, in part, to the failure of foreign governments and international donor organizations to deliver aid efficiently. While a number of countries provided generous emergency relief immediately after the earthquake, many have been slow to fulfill promises of continued assistance for reconstruction and infrastructure development. Indeed, as of late September, only 15 percent of promised aid had reached Haiti. In many countries, legislative and bureaucratic processes have delayed further assistance. In the U.S., for example, Senator Tom Coburn has held up a five-year assistance authorization bill, and the State Department has delayed a USD 1.15 billion supplemental appropriations act that was signed by President Obama in late July.

However, the relevancy of these shortcomings to the current crisis is debatable, and it is not clear whether a more urgent allocation of foreign assistance would have significantly hindered the spread of cholera. Aid funds certainly could have been used to supply clean water and proper sanitation facilities, but it is unclear whether governments would have allocated funds to improve conditions in temporary settlements. Furthermore, given that donor institutions had primarily focused on areas directly affected by the earthquake, it is doubtful whether the funds would have been distributed effectively to close gaps in coverage.

Inadequate coordination between NGOs has also been detrimental to Haiti’s reconstruction effort. After the earthquake, various individual NGOs assumed responsibility for many of the tent cities occupied by those displaced by the earthquake, but there were no uniform standards or procedures in place to govern the distribution of resources among the camps. The capabilities of the NGOs in question varied widely, and as a result, some camps were adequately maintained, while others experienced catastrophic shortages of food and potable water. According to a joint study by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, the University of San Francisco School of Law, and Lamp for Haiti, 44 percent of families in Haiti’s tent cities drink primarily untreated water, and only 9 percent received drinking water relief over a 30 day period. In most cases, clean water is only available to Haitians who can pay for it, and illnesses due to unsanitary water are common. The study also found that only 69 percent of Haitians in tent cities have access to basic toilet facilities, and toilets are often unclean, unsafe, and overcrowded.

While poor coordination among NGOs has exacerbated conditions in Haiti, it is unclear to what extent this shortcoming contributed to the cholera epidemic. Prior to the earthquake, much of the population lacked access to clean water and adequate waste management systems, and water-borne diseases were common. Thus, conditions were ripe for the spread of cholera even before the catastrophe. In the aftermath of the earthquake, over 160,000 Haitians were forced to resettle temporarily in the Artibonite region, where most of the cholera cases have been diagnosed. The increase in regional population has strained resources and compounded challenges in the removal of waste. While post-earthquake resettlement patterns certainly aggravated conditions that would facilitate the spread of cholera, it is difficult to determine to what extent the population shift has actually accelerated the spread of the disease. Cholera has just begun to infiltrate the tent cities,16 so conditions in the camps have not played a significant role in the outbreak thus far. However, cholera is now prevalent in Port-au-Prince, and it seems to be only a matter of time before the disease also becomes prevalent in the camps surrounding the capital. When the epidemic does make its way into the camps, the lack of a coordinated effort to provide clean water and proper sanitation will surely have devastating consequences.


Prior to the outbreak, the CDC had, in fact, developed a contingency plan to detect and respond to a cholera epidemic. The effort included the establishment of health monitoring sites to rapidly detect an outbreak of the disease. Proper methods of sample collection and analysis to confirm cases of cholera were also addressed in the plan, which provided several options for public health action should an outbreak occur. After the outbreak, the international community responded quickly to contain the disease. Soon after the first case was diagnosed, the CDC sent health experts to Haiti to conduct laboratory diagnoses. Cuba immediately dispatched several hundred doctors and nurses to administer antibiotics and assist those in need of treatment, and NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières set up cholera treatment centers and provided workers to staff local hospitals. Many of the public health options presented in the CDC report have been implemented, and containment objectives have been clearly defined.

The Haitian government, often criticized as corrupt and incompetent, has also done its part in responding to the outbreak. The Haitian Ministry of Health was first to detect the disease, and it has since played an active role in the containment effort. In addition, the government took decisive steps to help Haitians prepare for Hurricane Tomas and minimize the spread of cholera due to flooding from the storm.20


While the damage from the epidemic could certainly have been lessened by more anticipatory actions, it is unlikely that it could have been prevented completely. Health workers, operating under the assumption that a cholera outbreak was unlikely, understandably focused on more pressing concerns. While they may have had the capacity to significantly reduce the risk of an outbreak through vaccinations, health workers acted logically given the information they had. Although the failures of national, international, and nongovernmental organizations did not cause the outbreak, they may be partially responsible for the rapid spread of the disease. Whether or not poor coordination or delays in assistance actually facilitated the spread of the epidemic, as more Haitians are affected, increased (and long overdue) scrutiny of these shortcomings is inevitable. Reasonable preparations to contain a possible cholera epidemic were made in the months following the earthquake, and although it is premature to evaluate the international response, the effort to contain the disease seems to be well-coordinated.

According to PAHO deputy director Jon Andrus, cholera is not likely to be eradicated in Haiti for several years,21 and health workers have begun to prepare for a prolonged campaign against the disease. Speculation that Nepalese peacekeepers may have introduced the bacteria has led to protests and widespread anti-UN sentiment, which will likely inhibit the UN’s ability to operate effectively in the country. There are also fears that the flooding brought by Hurricane Tomas could expedite the spread of the disease, which is expected to eventually move across Haiti’s porous border with the Dominican Republic.22 Clearly, the international community must be fully committed to controlling the spread of the epidemic. While it is important to hold institutions accountable for any fault that may exist, excessive criticism at this juncture may be an overreaction. There is simply not enough available information to demonstrate the culpability of any one organization. Furthermore, attempts to assign blame for the crisis distract from and may even impede efforts to contain the disease. Given Haiti’s already unbearable suffering, it is imperative that the international community, the Haitian government, and its people are unified in their response to the cholera outbreak, which, if allowed to become a point of division, has the potential to make a dreadful situation even worse.

References for this article are available here

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." For more information, visit

November 17, 2010


Bahamas: ...a lack of swift justice is a hard pill to swallow

The need for swift justice
thenassauguardian editorial

Is there such a thing as swift justice?

The idea behind swift justice is to capture, prosecute and take immediate action on those found guilty of serious crimes. Once that is done, the trend of thought suggests it would make would-be criminals think twice about their actions.

Swift justice will also go a long way in helping members of the public feel a little safer. Police officers have often complained about having done their part in capturing criminals, but they feel that the system betrays them by giving bail to individuals accused of serious crimes like murder.

They’ve complained that even individuals charged with crimes such as housebreaking or assault are given bail too easily and too quickly.

For police officers who are committed to cleaning up the streets, a lack of swift justice is a hard pill to swallow.

No doubt swift justice would help to clean out the backlog of cases that are currently before the courts. Some believe that once the courts can quickly deal with small matters before them, by handing out swift justice, it would give them more time and effort to concentrate on solving serious matters before the courts.

Why should a petty theft be a matter before the courts for months or even years? If all of the evidence and facts are there to convict, then why hold up the court by putting off the case?

That is where swift justice must prevail.

Of course, in all of this the key element would be having all of the evidence and facts to prosecute a case and get a conviction. While justice must be swift, it must also be just.

There must be no room for doubt or guessing, especially when it comes to serious matters like murder, attempted murder, kidnapping or assault. The evidence must be crystal clear.

Perhaps it is this inability of the system to present credible evidence and facts that forces cases to be pushed back or be held before the courts for an extended period of time.

More work must be done by prosecutors in presenting evidence that would expedite swift justice.

A delay in justice forces the hand of the people to seek their own justice, which leads to more problems.

Because of delayed justice many Bahamians have chosen to attempt to take the law into their own hands, seeking their own justice.

Swift Justice must work in the best interest of all. Victims must feel that the system and the law is there to protect them, not frustrate them.


thenassauguardian editorial

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bahamas: Our developmental equation also requires world-class Bahamian talent

Repatriating & Cultivating Bahamian Talent
by Simon

There are significant reserves of Bahamian capital, human and financial, currently abroad. That capital has been attracted to various overseas opportunities and markets able to utilize and often better reward such potential. This has resulted in a brain and financial capital drain on the country.

None of this is unique to us. Yet, The Bahamas must devise its own strategies to repatriate these resources, providing opportunities for such capital to be rewarded. Just as we target foreign direct investment and qualified international talent, we should do likewise with both Bahamian investment potential and talent resident abroad.

Of necessity, our greater, though not singular, emphasis is on attracting foreign direct investment to help capitalize our growth and development. Our developmental equation also requires world-class Bahamian talent.

This will require improved educational and training opportunities for Bahamians at home. It must also include an aggressive, consistent and sophisticated programme of recruitment of Bahamian talent around the world. This should include a database or registry of such talent from around the world.

The global Bahamian talent pool is considerable for such a small country. History and geography have, in many ways, been good to us. We have often returned the favour. Because of our strategic location and historical experience we have developed a resilient nation and a creative and diverse talent pool.

Despite an often indulged penchant for insularity, there is a cosmopolitan spirit to The Bahamas. Three things are inevitable for Bahamians: death, taxes and getting a passport.

Despite xenophobic sentiments, inward migration has generally been beneficial to the country in terms of diversifying our genetic pool. Scratch the surface and most of us are a few generations removed from being from somewhere else, despite the pretensions of some.


The delusion of a superior or singular Bahamian identity or pedigree is historically and genetically dubious. The Bahamas DNA Project is revealing the fascinating extent of our genetic diversity. Like America, we are a relatively new and evolving people. Being a true-true Bahamian includes an acculturation into the values and ethos of the Bahamian spirit, not a genetic identify test.

It is a matter of pride and maturity that The Bahamas elected as Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling, a Father of the Nation, the son of a Jamaican father and Bahamian mother. Those who deemed him insufficiently Bahamian demonstrated an unBahamian spirit antithetical to our larger national experience.

As a dynamic and global crossroads, we have produced a talent pool able to punch way above our small population. The Bahamian David has Goliathan ambitions, cleverly using core strengths to create outsized achievements.

In a revealing analysis of the medal count following the 2004 Athens Olympics, for a country of under 400,000. The Economist discovered that in terms of medals per million of population The Bahamas was not only first in the world. It was also significantly ahead of the parade of nations in achieving Olympic glory. As our medal count continues to climb so does the number of Bahamian Rhodes Scholars.

One of those scholars, Christian Campbell, recently won the best first collection prize at the Aldeburgh poetry festival in the UK for his book of poetry, Running the Dusk. The book was described by one festival judge as “the clear stand-out” among the many volumes read for the award. Campbell received a cheque prize of £3,000 and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best collection.

Janine Antoni, hailing from Grand Bahama has had her work displayed in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) as well as other notable museums and galleries. She has also received several prestigious awards including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.

Our recipe for success includes two key ingredients: Much of our talent has been nurtured at home and further developed overseas. We have had considerable global exposure and training, participating in international competition in various arenas from the arts to sports to academics to the business world.

Moreover, we should better acknowledge and further enhance the seeds, fertile soil and home-grown ingredients for our world-class success. The double equation of nurturing our talent at home and abroad has a third element in an ever-expanding equation of success.


Financial remittances from overseas nationals to their home nations are a significant portion of the gross domestic product of many countries. Similarly, the repatriation of human capital and talent will help to significantly boost our treasury of talent and training opportunities for Bahamians.

Devard Darling’s generosity is an example. Born in Nassau, this professional football player in the U.S. began the “As the One Foundation”, which sponsors the Devard and Devaughan Football Camps. The camps promote the interest of young Bahamians in American football.

Myron Rolle, the scholar-athlete, Rhodes Scholar and professional football player, is also lending his talent to his Bahamian homeland. He has launched the Myron L. Rolle Foundation and plans to open a free health clinic in Steventon, Exuma.

The clinic will be called the Myron L. Rolle Medical Clinic and Sports Complex after this young man with Bahamian roots who was named in September by Sporting News as the second smartest athlete in sports in the United States.

In addition to philanthropy at home by Bahamians overseas, The Bahamas is a highly-rich economy with significant and often untapped potential in multiple growth areas that may be filled by Bahamians abroad.

There are potential consultancies for those who may decide not to return home permanently, but who have a variety of specialty services to offer. Others, returning home, may seek to fill various jobs requiring specialty skills as well as a second and often third language or more. Yet others may want to open their own professional firms and businesses.


As the country continues to develop, significant specialty areas remain under- populated by Bahamian talent. There is a demand for a variety of skill-sets for major infrastructural projects.

Among others, these include project management, specialty engineering skills as well as individuals with experience in designing and producing environmental and social impact assessments for small island states. Other areas include expertise in sustainable tourism and heritage preservation, a range of environmental and marine sciences, as well as communications technologies and the life sciences.

The country should also be looking for Bahamian talent at home and abroad to administer and provide professional services to various agencies such as the Nassau Airport Development Company. A programme for the Bahmianization of NAD should be a part of the company’s mid- to long-term planning.

As The Bahamas continues to prepare for the development and management of our own air traffic region, the development of investment, consulting and job opportunities for Bahamians, at home and abroad, is a matter of priority.

Such a strategic focus on cultivating and providing training for Bahamians may serve as a model for other areas of national life. It will also provide enhanced opportunities for a Bahamian talent pool teeming with possibilities and desirous of avenues for success.

November 15, 2010


Monday, November 15, 2010

What does the emergence of a unified, anti-American, Europe-oriented trade bloc mean?

By Rebecca Theodore

If argument persists that a state cannot be fully understood if it is isolated from its historical development, then the transition from democracy to authoritarianism for Latin American countries implies that there must be a constant rewriting of the social contract based on new social and economic relations that are continually emerging in Latin America. Paradoxically, the return of democracy from authoritarianism not only demonstrates that ‘a government is legitimate if and only if no better feasible policy exists’ but also exhibits the fact that it is possible for democracies to be authoritarian as well.

Rebecca Theodore was born on the north coast of the Caribbean island of Dominica and resides in Toronto, Canada. A national security and political columnist, she holds a BA and MA in Philosophy. She can be reached at rebethd@aim.comOpponents have argued that Latin American state formation is more closely aligned with European state patterns due to colonial influences from the fifteenth century and it is to Western Europe that one needs to turn in order to uncover the roots of the embryonic parallel. However, it must be remembered that the US has also been deeply ingrained in Latin American affairs since 1823, when President James Monroe created the Monroe Doctrine to keep European powers out of the New World. In light of this, America’s reputation as the great superpower of the Andes and the savior of protectionism and liberalism is now viewed in Latin America as a policy of imperialism and a sign of utter weakness.

While China’s ideological connection of communism and socialism weakens US power in Latin America, it is evident that the European trade bloc is now Latin America’s primary trade partner. Latin American trade group Mercosur is the only multinational continent in the world to be united by a common linguistic background, a common culture, and a common religion factor making South America’s path to assimilation a lot smoother into the congregation of the European States of Europe. The legal structure of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) not only unites South America’s two major trade blocs -- Mercosur and the Andean Community -- but has now launched a South American Defense Council, unlike a NATO alliance to mediate regional conflicts and defense from foreign intervention and excludes the US from military planning in the region.

Moreover, Latin America is far more important to Europe as an industrial base than as a simple trade partner. The giant storehouse of timber, natural gas, crude oil, minerals, precious metals, and iron in the region from the Rio Grande to Terra del Fuego are resources that Europe needs in its ascension to world supremacy. The completion of the largest steel-producing complex in Brazil by ThyssenKrupp means steel products will be actively churned out to be sold to Germany and South American countries, with Venezuela as the principal buyer. This also means that the US-backed Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (FTAA) is dead. Estados de América Latina ha creado su propio barrio, y los Estados Unidos de América no es parte de ella. (Latin American states have created their own neighborhood and the US is not a part of it.)

It is clear that anti-Americanism is now the common premise across every political party in Latin and South America. While Evo Morales is rapidly following Chavez’s lead by nationalizing Bolivia’s oil and gas in a move that reverberates that of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe’s land for grab deals, the newly elected president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff is just a hand-chosen puppet of wildly popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s policies. With huge oil reserves recently discovered off Brazil’s coast, and with a rare earth debate gaining momentum between China and Germany that excludes American interest, Rousseff inherits an economy that is among the world's hottest emerging markets and this means that it will need more than a party shift in the US House of Representatives to advance bilateral relationship.

Hugo Chávez on the other hand has, without doubt, polarized Venezuela’s society and intellectual debate by undermining civil liberties, threatening the continuity of democratic governance, hence his accompaniment of a repulsive episode of an ALBA alliance that provided Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and Ecuadoran Rafael Correa with a foretaste of how to rewrite the constitution and establish authoritarian rule in Honduras, leaving a Honduran legislature buried in turmoil and controversy over US intelligence officials bribing Ecuadoran police, and recruiting informants among them. Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Chile are all offering radical transformation and presenting different alternatives to deal with the consequences of economic reforms.

Now that the US has lost Latin America to Europe and China as primary trade partners also means that the Republicans’ tsunami win in the House of Representatives will prove that Barack Obama is not suffering the blunders of a political double standard on the economy as has been so widely anticipated. As Republicans embrace their ambitious legislative agenda they will in time notice that the U.S. economy is starving to death and reducing the deficit or the current unemployment rate of 9.6% and fighting the Great Recession is no magic but a sign of the times.

Trade with Latin America, coupled with other economic factors, has already started reading the eulogy of the US dollar, thereby exposing the grave danger of the economic reverberations that are just now beginning to shake the nucleus of the world’s financial systems. Regardless of what anyone says, this is not an Obama problem, it is a global problem -- “blame it on the economy stupid”. The only self-sustaining economic bloc is the establishment of an EU-style government and for this reason EU status must be fortified in the UN because Latin and South American states, Caribbean states and even Africa have no option other than complete reliance on the economic ties of a German-led EU, or cling to the apron strings of a Russo-China alliance in their quest for economic reforms.

Whether it means that economic reformers in the US need to employ authoritarian tactics to defend democratic processes or risk total failure or that democratic governments in Latin America are not authoritarian enough to defend positive economic reforms; it is clear that the new trend in Latin America is… Buenos dias Europe, Adios America, pero quando o povo esta morrendo de fome, a democracia e’ so uma palavra.” Good morning Europe, Goodbye America, because when the people are starving democracy is just a word.

November 15, 2010


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bahamians welcome the arrival of Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze as she is set to take the reins as President of the College/University of The Bahamas

A Welcome to Dr. Betsy Vogel-Bose
By Felix Bethel
The Bahama Journal

Perhaps it could not be otherwise.

This is the conclusion we have reached concerning the long awaited announcement that a new president was set to be appointed to lead the College of The Bahamas.

As some public relations script coming in recites: “..."The College of the Bahamas is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze to President of The College of The Bahamas with effect from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2014.

The same script notes that, “The appointment of Dr. Earla Carey-Baines as President will come to an end on December 31, 2010. The College is greatly indebted to Dr. Carey-Baines, who will resume responsibilities as Dean, with effect from January 1, 2011...”

We are told that, “Dr. Vogel-Boze comes to The College with a wealth of experience in building and transforming tertiary academic institutions; that her experience in academic administration spans 20 years in multi-campus university structures, including most recently, Campus Dean and Chief Executive Officer of Kent State University Stark, where she is also a Professor in Marketing...”

We note that, “Kent Stark is a public liberal arts university offering baccalaureate and masters degrees. It has a student population of 5,400 enrolled in academic programmes and about 5,000 that enrol annually in executive education programmes...”

Note also that, “Dr. Vogel-Boze holds a PhD in Business Administration from The University of Arkansas, a Masters in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, both from Southern Methodist University. She currently holds the post of Senior Fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), a leadership organization for 430 public colleges and universities...”

We welcome her to the Bahamas; and as we are being told, she will be welcomed to the College of the Bahamas.

While we do welcome this fine scholar to the Bahamas and while we do wish her all the best; we are still somewhat discomfited by the fact that, there was apparently no Bahamian scholar worth his or her salt to be considered for this post.

This is most regrettable.

In this regard, we are hearing say that, while there are Bahamians at home and abroad who might have filled the post; many did not apply because they could see no reason why they should expose themselves and their families for anything that might smack of small-mindedness and spite.

When we heard this, we were fascinated; thinking then that, this might explain so much about how Bahamians routinely denigrate their own while –at the same time – going to extreme lengths to validate, affirm and legitimate all that is foreign.

And yet, there is that voice that now tells us that, this might well be the way things are. By necessary extrapolation, things as they are might well express the strong views held by some who now lead; thus the decisions made in the name of the Bahamian people; and [perhaps] thus the current choice of Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze to the post of President of The College of The Bahamas with effect from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2014.

And thus, as we have done in some other instances, so today we do as we join some other Bahamians who now welcome the arrival of Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze as she is set to take the reins as President of the College/University of The Bahamas.

Evidently, this scholar did have what it took for her to be one of the three choices thrown up as finalists in a much-touted process aimed at finding someone who could lead the College at this time in its development.

From some of the bits and pieces we have been able to glean about some of what is happening and much that is clearly not happening; and for that matter, about some of what could and should be happening in the College; we are –at this juncture- not impressed.

The College of the Bahamas could have and indeed should have done far more than it has done across a span of three decades and more.

As far as we are concerned, the College could have and should have done more in areas like teaching, nursing and small business development.

In addition, the College could have and should have been far more proactive in deepening its students understanding of the importance of civic education to their formation as citizens in an independent Bahamas; and in the wider region.

But be that as it may, we are yet confident that the day will come when the College of The Bahamas will welcome one of its very own; a man or a woman – born and bred Bahamian – who will lead with distinction.

And so, as we await the coming of that day, we welcome Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze to the Bahamas and the work that is ahead for her.

We wish her well.

The Bahama Journal

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Michaelle Jean and UNICEF

By Jean H Charles

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) may have made the wrong move in naming the brainy and attractive Canadian-Haitian Michaelle Jean, formerly the Governor General of Canada, as its representative in Haiti. She minced no words and wasted no time in letting the world know it is time to stop the successive failed experiments in Haiti.

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: 
During the year 2010, no country has benefited from so much publicity and marketing and goodwill as the Republic of Haiti. Yet the return for the Haitian people is so insignificant that proper research must be done to find out why a consortium of actors and actions keep contributing to bringing Haiti into an abyss so deep that light at the horizon cannot be seen.

January 12, 2010, was a defining moment for Haiti to be reborn from its recent and past ashes. In less than one minute, a formidable earthquake shook the land under the capital Port au Prince and destroyed lives and limb in a random pattern affecting some 1.5 million people and killing more than 300,000.

A proud and resilient nation that instructed the world about the way to human rights two hundred years ago has been engulfed in a national and international intrigue that now lasted two centuries. The last sixty years have been one of the most painful for the nation. I am a living witness of a country seeking its destiny but halted by dictators, military misfits, and petty demagogues clothed with democratic vestments in bed with an international community too cynical to be naïve about the caustic mix of the relationship.

The Haitian intellectuals -- those who should have led the masses -- have short-circuited the long march forward. Like the Israelites in the Bible they have escaped into Egypt. That Egypt was Canada for Michaelle Jean; it was the United States for me and my family. It has been the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, France and Florida for others.

Luckily, a critical mass of Haitian intellectuals is returning home to lead the fight for a regime change that implies more than a masquerade election. It signifies the creation of a nation at the dimension of its initial aspiration; a country hospitable to all. The obstacles are many. In the past sixty years the ill governance of the Duvaliers, the Aristides and the Prevals has elevated mediocrity and stupidity as queen and squalor as king of Haiti.

During a cursory visit to Haiti, whether in the countryside or in the main cities, you will find the indices of no government, as well as a myriad of nongovernmental organizations like chicken heads seeking a proper mission. The main highway from Port au Prince to Cape Haitian is impracticable halfway from Gonaives. Desolation, misery lack of institutional support is the lot of the small towns. Bidonvilization, lack of electricity, no potable running water, and sporadic street cleaning is the expectations for the major cities. Port au Prince the capital is a ghost town at night and a hodgepodge of traffic jams and confusion during the day.

This canvas is framed with a mammoth United Nations occupation contingent, with the soldiers ready to shoot from a mounted vehicle or war tank. The only casualty for those soldiers is the wearing of the heavy helmet in 80-degree weather at the dawn of winter.

The international community, with the OAS as the lead agent, is pushing full speed for the futile exercise of election, pretending that democracy is the goal. With a population in abject poverty, uneducated and without hope, the present government is ready and able to buy each vote with a crisp 1,000 gourdes or the equivalent of US$25. For the millions who live under tents and in the hills of the countryside, this sum represents a winning lotto ticket.

This is democracy a la OAS and a la UN. Michaelle Jean, like her namesake St Michael, who chased Satan and the evil angels from heaven, might represent a Trojan horse thrown into the city ready to become a fierce advocate of true democracy in Haiti. From the international podium she may be needed on the national one as the CEO of CRHI, the Haiti Reconstruction Authority that has been dragging its feet on the speedy recovery process.

To apprehend the real problem of the country one has to superpose a triangle over the map of Haiti. The basis of the triangle is formed with a line that includes the 566 rural villages. The second layer represents the 142 small towns. The third layer constitutes the 10 major cities and the capital Port au Prince as the apex.

The rural villages constitute the structural basis of the triangle. They have not received funding for infrastructure and institutional buildings since the birth of the nation. Consequently, the internal migration to the cities has compromised the integrated development. Catastrophes, erosion, public health outbreak are constant companions that visit the nation regularly.

My organization – AIDNOH – has teamed up with Caritas to launch a project of (re)building in the north and the northeast part of Haiti. We have targeted six rural villages to bring about the rudiments of infrastructure and services such as school, health, economic development, youth leadership to root the citizens in their localities. There are 560 more rural villages to reach with the indices of good living! Starting Haiti on the right tract must go through that process.


A fund called the blue and red (the color of the Haitian flag) angel has been set up to that effect. It is seeking the tax exempt contribution of one thousand angels who will pledge $100 per month for the reconstruction of Haiti starting from the bottom up not the top down. We have already found one angel (Pat Schenck from upstate New York) as such we need 999 more. Would you subscribe to that worthy cause?

November 13, 2010