Google Ads

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The observance of Emancipation Day is not merely intended to create another public holiday, but rather to inject in the consciousness of our people a deep appreciation of the process of liberation from British colonial exploitation to the achievement of nationhood, the suffering endured, the human cost (lives lost), the sacrifices made, and the hopes and aspirations of those engaged in the struggle

Emancipation and the Emancipated

By Howard Gregory


THE nation will be celebrating a significant milestone in its life tomorrow, namely, emancipation from chattel slavery. The observance of Emancipation Day is not merely intended to create another public holiday, but rather to inject in the consciousness of our people a deep appreciation of the process of liberation from British colonial exploitation to the achievement of nationhood, the suffering endured, the human cost (lives lost), the sacrifices made, and the hopes and aspirations of those engaged in the struggle.

In this regard I am always drawn to a perspective on emancipation attributed to Karl Marx, as the enjoyment of equal status of individual citizens in relation to the state equality before the law, regardless of religion, property, or other "private" characteristics of individual people. In short, it is about being acknowledged as a human being of equal worth and value as any other, and, therefore, deserving of social justice, rights, and respect, within the community of persons.

While there remains a significant number of persons in the society who question the value of such an observance, it is clear that the generations who are the beneficiaries of the legacy of emancipation run the risk of seeing themselves as the emancipated. They tend to forget that emancipation is not an achieved status, but rather a process of becoming in a national and global context which could enslave the unsuspecting, the powerless, the indifferent, and the naïve. To that extent, it must be affirmed that while Emancipation as an official and formal declaration became effective on August 1, 1838, we are still on the emancipation pilgrimage.

Occasions that require us to remember our history are often met with cynicism and hostility by various segments of our society. They who keep insisting that we must forget our past and move on. While we cannot live in the past, it is fallacious to suggest that recalling the past is to live in the past. It is definitely a necessary component of a sense of one's roots and sense of identity as individuals and as part of a community and nation. It also helps to inform the vision of the people and their faithfulness to the story of the struggles of the ancestors throughout the ages.

One of the distortions present in a simplistic recall of our history is seeing it in terms of its violent dimensions, especially the violence involved in revolts and rebellion, while suggesting that this can only stir animosity within the contemporary context. Certainly there was violence, a violence inherent in the system, and which could only be defeated by a violent response in part. Beyond that, however, those enslaved ancestors were men and women who had a sense of identity and worth, and a vision for their brothers and sisters that involved shedding the constraints of their time and place and, with courage and confidence, imagine a world of freedom.

The very word emancipation, by any definition, speaks of moral categories of realignment of relationships between those who wield power and constitute the status quo and those who are its victims. It also speaks of a new status for the victims that finds expression in a range of cognate terms that speak of justice and freedom, and the affirmation of the humanity of those who were previously treated as less than human. The question that this raises for us is to what extent did our enslaved ancestors see this as something which was achievable in and for their time, or whether this constituted the story of their lives. Was it supposed to be for subsequent generations the inspiration to community building, unconstrained by the boundaries of the present, but which is built on a moral vision?

It would appear that there are many from our generation who see the legacy of emancipation in an individualistic manner, and who arrogate to themselves every right and freedom of which emancipation is deemed to speak, but without any sense of moral and social responsibility and accountability to the community, or even a sense of respect for the freedom and rights of others. One often hears this expressed in the popular phrase "man free". This attitude stands in stark contrast to that great icon of the global struggle for emancipation, Nelson Mandela, who said: "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

Those who dare to challenge any expression of anti-social behaviour on the roads and in public places run the risk of being abused or, worse yet, having their lives threatened. It does not matter whether one is the contractor general trying to investigate a case of corruption, or the young man from August Town who dares to claim the right not to join a gang and literally loses his head. No one must stand in the way of these persons. Being emancipated and free can only be defined in terms of perceived personal desires and ambitions, and is unrelated to and lacking in respect for the rights and freedom of others.

The situation is being complicated by the culture of moral pluralism which has had an impact on us in the developed world through the Internet, cable television, and the ease of travel across national boundaries, and has become yet another manifestation of the disintegration of social values which are constitutive of a humane and civilised society. Up to recent years ours has been a fairly traditional society guided by religious and social values that have deep roots in the Christian faith and some of our African culture. The problem seems to be that we have not focused on what aspects of our traditional cultural and social values we should preserve. We have neither had the kind of discourse and dialogue that can provide our people with a framework for processing all that is impacting our lives in terms of values, and which reflects faithfulness to our history and the struggles which we have overcome.

While emancipation speaks to moral categories at a fundamental level, it has to do with all areas of life, and therefore, there was much more to the hopes and aspiration of those involved in the emancipation struggle. Subsequent uprisings in the decades following Emancipation point to the incomplete nature of the process to secure things which make for human dignity and development. Hence, the movement away from the sugar estates and the establishment of free villages gave expression to the desire for independence and control over one's life and livelihood. In the same breath, the uprising in Morant Bay points to the struggle for legal and social justice, while the Frome uprising points to the struggle for better wages and working conditions.

The spirit of emancipation which was nurtured in our ancestors' struggle for liberation and their vision for their people, has been railroaded and compromised. Today, the legacy of emancipation has been taken to mean justification for anti-social and criminal behaviour. It seems that no one is to be called to account for indiscipline and downright criminal behaviour, which manifests itself in the response one receives from indisciplined motorists, and the "informa fi dead" philosophy. This freedom is also being used to justify every anti-social and criminal way of "making a bread". Scamming is justified by many, uncontrolled vending in public spaces is an untouchable activity, and an industry that has been thriving on the theft of metal objects from private enterprises, public utilities, from places of worship, and graves, is supposed to be untouchable because of its employment and income-generating capacity.

A people on a path toward emancipation are a people of hope. Notwithstanding the violent and oppressive nature of the system of slavery, our ancestors nourished a hope that one day the shackles of slavery would be thrown off. Hope is based not on the current dynamic of history and the constraints of a particular time and space, but on the conviction that, in holding fast as the people of God, the fulfilment of the hope that is nurtured within will be realised. For people of faith, hope is inherent in their life because, they are invited to be in God's pilgrimage. For the Christian faith community, to which many of our ancestors and leaders in the movement toward emancipation belonged, the primary paradigm of emancipation is that of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. As one commentator pointed out while speaking about the prophetic message of Isaiah and others to a people still on the path of emancipation: "Hope is the decision to which God invites Israel, a decision against despair, against permanent consignment to chaos, oppression, barrenness, and exile."

Recent and current developments in our society point to a lack of hope, resignation by citizens, and the railroading of the process of national emancipation. During the past year the nation has had to come face to face with the issue of the alliance of our politicians with criminality through the kind of political culture that has been fostered since Independence. Like other issues in our national life, the question of morality takes second place to our political loyalties. This dynamic serves to perpetuate corruption and the criminality that often provides the structural support for the maintenance of corruption within the system of governance and in the local communities. Now the society is at a place where the connection between politics and criminality is evident, and as a consequence there are serious questions in the minds of citizens concerning trust, integrity and credibility. More and more citizens are losing hope in the political process to bring about the fulfilment of the hopes of our ancestors and are withdrawing from participation in the political life of the nation.

We in Jamaica have seen daily the way in which human life is being treated as an expendable commodity. The killing of 17-year-old Khajeel Mais, allegedly by the driver of a black BMW X6 sport utility vehicle, is a despicable and reprehensible act. But we must ask ourselves whether this is just a matter of a criminal act, or whether there are serious ethical issues which the incident raises for us concerning materialism and the value of human life?

We cannot overlook the fact that a number of young children have lost their lives through criminal activity in recent months, as they are treated as part of the collateral damage in disputes or in reprisals. A week ago, the Sunday Gleaner began a lead story with the following comment:

"CRIMINALS IN Jamaica have ruthlessly murdered more than 1,500 children and teenagers since the turn of the 21st century."

Many Jamaicans need to wake up to the fact that the community protection which area leaders offer, the extortion racket from which many of them benefit, and the drug culture which others support as an innocent way to earn "a bread", each has a modus operandi which sees the violence directed at children, as one way of teaching a lesson to those who would "mess" with them and their income. In a real sense, it is true to say that for them "money run things". The primary value in determining human life is then materialistic.

Emancipation has to do with the physical and external circumstances under which persons live, but it also speaks in a more profound way of internal/intrapersonal transformation at a spiritual level. There is a sense in which there is an interplay of the internal and external (physical) dimensions required for dealing with the experience of enslavement at a spiritual and psychological level, if there is to be healing, wholeness and liberation from one generation to another.

Let us then be aware that the declaration of Emancipation of 1838 is history, but the real task of emancipation continues as a life-long pilgrimage for individuals and the nation. We must be constantly vigilant in looking out for those forces which would seek to continue to enslave and threaten the lives of our people and our freedom in our time. But ultimately, we must seek to protect and build on the legacy which is ours, and not seek to betray the struggle and the achievements by distorted and corrupt notions of emancipation at the individual and communal levels.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Compromise and American politics

By Louis EA Moyston:

In recent months, weeks and days we have been listening to news on American politics and the search for a compromise. The history of this word is rooted in American politics from the Constitutional Convention in the post-1776 period to the civil war of the 1860s. The American system of government is based on a compromise - a reasonable agreement between two or more parties. The emergent Tea Party politics that has fuelled the Republican Party has outlined the ideological framework for the Republicans in Washington, creating an inflexible political atmosphere. It is this ideology that has caused the stalemate - the ideological thrust has no room for compromise because their inflexibility is rooted in the idea that they must get rid of Barack Obama, making him a one-term president.

Just look at the BRICS nations and you will understand the magnitude of America's problem. America has lost its industrial edge and has been in two major wars that have been sucking the nation's resources. This combination has led to the decline of the USA. If they manage to get rid of Obama, a nativistic agenda will emerge in the USA - blacks and foreigners will become the focal point of their aggression. Norway has given us an important lesson. The weakness of the sharing of power in the US government may require new reforms regarding decision-making of this nature.

There is a rich history of compromise in American politics. It was the compromise between the Virginia and the New Jersey plans on the idea for the system of government as it is today. Other major compromises - 1820, 1850 and 1877 - more or less had to do with slavery, the politics of the South and the new territories in the West. American politics is built on compromises - the ability for parties or others to arrive at a reasonable conclusion; it is about making deals.
Interestingly, many of the compromises in the past had to do with slavery. This is a history that Obama has to live with. The objective of the Tea Party-led Republicans is to get rid of Obama by bringing the government to its knees at all costs. It is important to look at the Tea Party and its last election campaign. There was a convergence of traditional right-wingers and Tea Party adherents in a campaign to demonise Obama. They insisted that he was not an American citizen and that he intended to apply the "Kenyan model" to America. There are two leading Tea Party women in the Republican Party who spend their time describing Obama as a person who lacks the capacity to lead. What is evident is not a new plan but the right-wing ideology that is linked to the fact that they cannot stand to see a black man in the White House. The world was in awe - the morning after - when Barack Obama became the president of the USA, and so too were many Americans. Obama has the capacity to lead. Indeed, he is among four great intellects of the American presidency - Lincoln, Wilson and Clinton. I write not as a fan of Obama but I respect his intellect and his story.

Generally speaking, political parties in America are different from political parties in England, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Jamaica. Parties in America are renewed, re-energised and re-inspired by external "locomotives". In recent decades there have been two clear regroupings of conservatives to play a "revolutionary" role in American politics. In the 1980s there was the emergence of the role of interest and lobby groups and their use of the media to influence American politics in their ideological interest. In the 1980s it was about the "Reagan revolution" and today in another "revolutionary" coat there is Tea Party politics. It was the surge of the Tea Party that significantly assisted the victory of the Republicans in the mid-term elections that put the Republicans in a leading political role on Washington. There is nothing easy about politics, but it is wise to defend a position as an end and not as a means. To treat political decisions like desire-satisfying desires is far from doing the right thing for the right reason. There is that inclination to remove Obama that has landed American politics in a morass of moral pollution.

It is important to look at America beyond Obama. Who landed the country where it is now? Who landed America in two major wars costing the country much of its wealth in a period when America was unable to create adequate wealth to satisfy its appetite? There are some practical things for the Americans to be concerned about like increasing (not regaining) its competitive edge. It must produce more scientists and increase the role of science and technology in national development. By not recognising American current weaknesses, right-wingers aim their anger at blacks and immigrants for America's declining and decaying economy. Other implications include the use of right-wing politics to invade and capture strategic resources from the developing countries. The European aspect of nativistic politics was illustrated by that mass killer in Norway on July 22.. Ominous clouds are on the horizon of American politics.

Louis EA Moyston

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jamaica... Scrap metal ban: a concession to disorder

jamaica-gleaner editorial

We are in sympathy with Mr Karl Samuda's position on the decision by his successor, Dr Christopher Tufton, to shut down the scrap metal industry and ban the export of the stuff.

It smacks, as Mr Samuda says, of "surrendering to the rogue elements". Put another way, the move represents another retreat of law and order.

We, of course, do not presume that the conundrum presented to Dr Tufton, the recently appointed investment and commerce minister, was to be easily traversed or solved. Nor did it develop under his watch.

For Mr Samuda had struggled with the problem of damage to infrastructure and theft by scavengers, who rustle metal of all kinds to cash in on the high price for scrap on the world market.

Indeed, Dr Tufton estimates that utility companies and other legitimate businesses, including government agencies, have lost up to J$1 billion in material over the past three years to metal thieves, who sometimes rip down power and telecommunications equipment, with negative consequences to economic productivity. The problem grew worse as the availability of scrap metal declined, as the price of the commodity hiked and more players entered the business.

Damning Statement on Insecurity

The Government's decision to shut down the sector ought to give the average Jamaican no joy, no matter the spin of the administration, and even if it has the desired effect of curbing the pillaging and defacement. For the decision is a statement about insecurity in our country; a tacit admission by the State of its inability to protect either public or private property.

This is precisely the point we sought to make when Mr Samuda, then the responsible minister, recovered, by private initiative, a stolen priceless bronze sculpture by Edna Manley that was reportedly on its way to being scrap metal export. No one, in so far as we are aware, was ever arrested, charged, prosecuted or convicted for that theft. Mr Samuda, it appears, has come around to an appreciation of the dangerous consequences of this kind of surrender "to the rogue elements".

That, notwithstanding, it is difficult for us to believe that it is beyond the capacity of our Government to ensure, within the context of a system of free enterprise, the orderly operation of a sector of a few dozen people.

Bad signal

If the Jamaican State can't manage this, what ought the mass of the Jamaican people to assume about its ability to preserve their safety and to protect the right of individual property and, more important, the maintenance of law and order, which is the primary responsibility of the State?

But supposing that Dr Tufton's finger-in-the-dyke solution suffices for now, his longer-term proposal for the export of scrap metal seems problematic.

Companies that generate scrap metal will be allowed, according to the minister, to apply for permits to export that scrap. This suggests that these firms will be forced into a line of business outside their core portfolio.

And what of other scrap metal generated by households or by firms that don't have the capacity to organise their own export? We, perhaps, can look forward to there being plenty of scrap with which to block roads while people demand justice.

July 28, 2011

jamaica-gleaner editorial

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ideas and ideals of national youth service (NYS) in The Bahamas

Ideas and ideals of national youth service

thenassauguardian editorial

Nassau, Bahamas

There are some ideas many claim to understand, but which few actually do, such as national youth service (NYS), which the country should better define before moving ahead with any new initiatives that bear the name but have little resemblance to more authentic models of NYS.

In defining an idea, it’s clarifying to acknowledge what it isn’t. Efforts to rehabilitate non-violent juvenile offenders or provide alternative programs for school-age youth the public education system is unable “to handle” have been wrongly defined and mislabeled as national youth service.

Military and penal oriented programs are not examples of NYS. The former Youth Empowerment and Skills Training Institute (YEAST), for all its merits, though not without its problems is similarly not a form of NYS. Despite criticisms, those who initiated, built and supported YEAST deserve our gratitude.

While successive governments have spoken eloquently of the importance of NYS, they have failed to define the concept. But, despite this lack of clarity, there has been an enduring effort to provide our young people with opportunities to contribute to the common good through community service.

This spirit has produced fine programs such as the Girl Guides, Kiwanis’ Key Clubs and an impressive list of private efforts to develop character and promote active citizenship among our youth.

But these laudable programs are also not NYS. National youth service by its definition is broader based involving significant numbers of young people.

Whether we realize it or not, the country has already developed a form of NYS, namely, the mandatory community service program in our public and most of our private secondary schools.

This is an example of having a good thing and not recognizing its goodness, especially with regards to the thousands of hours of service thousands of Bahamian youth have already given to the nation.

But this good idea, yet underdeveloped program, is quite flawed in terms of its mission, direction, oversight and effectiveness. We have to make this good thing even better by holding these school-based programs to a higher standard and providing them with clearer guidelines and better management and accountability.

While there are other forms of NYS that can be geared towards college and post-college young people, and should be thought through, the country already has a national youth service infrastructure, namely, our junior and secondary schools filled with all of the nation’s youth, to whom we can provide myriad citizenship building and community service-learning experiences.

Our national challenge is not to launch new programs that check-off some box called national youth service, but to take what we already have and dramatically revise it so that the promise of NYS, already realized in some form, can more fully fulfill the idea and ideals of national youth service of which we have long dreamed.

Jul 26, 2011

thenassauguardian editorial

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Norway Massacre - The new face of domestic terrorism

By Rebecca Theodore

A terrorist attack in Oslo, Norway! No, it’s not. It’s unrelated to al Qaeda or any other terror movement. It is the work of one of its own citizens. It is the work of a madman.

Situated in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Norway’s constitutional monarchy style government feared nothing from attacks by Islamic militants.

Rebecca Theodore was born on the north coast of the Caribbean island of Dominica and is now based in Atlanta, GA . She writes on national security and political issues and can be reached at rebethd@comcast.comEven though there has been threats that Norway supported the American-led NATO military operation in Afghanistan by the number two leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over after the death of Osama bin Laden; the scene of panicking people and blown out windows of several government buildings, lay far from the minds of the ordinary working people of Oslo. Instead, they looked forward to enjoying the long days of summer and the glories of the midnight sun.

Now that American counterterrorism officials have cautioned that Norway’s own homegrown extremist, Anders Behring Breivik is responsible for the attacks; President Obama’s plea to ‘work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks’ opens the floodgate on domestic terrorism in America and around the world.

Whereas this cautionary tale distracts the American people from the debt ceiling crisis and the failures of the economy, it extends beyond the perpetuated myth of political scientists and sociologists that all Muslims are terrorists and the compressed hysteria and outpouring of hate for Islam and Muslims.

According to Oslo acting chief of police, Sveinung Sponheim, Mr Breivik is not known to have any ties to Islamic extremists, speculating instead that the target was Norway’s liberal government.

Anders Behring Breivik was ‘an army of one’ with a full-fledged ideology that he held together – an ideology that motivated him to stalk youths and open fire on an island summer camp for young members of the governing Labour Party and the government building in Norway.

Anders Behring Breivik committed a terrorist act, yet he is not labeled a violent radical terrorist but rather ‘a right wing Christian fundamentalist.’ Although the atrocity is more politically motivated rather than religious or probably just a prolonged state of mental illness, a new definition of terrorism has been created in the media for other copycats to mimic.

It cannot be denied that we live in a bigoted world. Muslim radicals have a great record of creating havoc and murdering innocent individuals. However, it is clear that if a Muslim was involved then it would have been labeled a terror attack, but because it came from a white Christian man, terrorism is baptized and sanctified with a new aphorism.

It is evident that language again serves its own purpose by entertaining the whims of a blockade type mentality that fuels more antagonism and bitterness for home grown recruiting camps in the US and the Caribbean, thus making them more inward looking and more open to religious extremism.

As a replacement for addressing the vehement revolt of disturbed individuals who use violence against civilians to satisfy their own political ends against elected governments, the media has again detached the issue away from its socio-political context by enforcing the culture of victimhood against Muslims. Muslims are again portrayed as the one stop cause for the myriad of problems facing the world today.

Mr Breivik’s actions have puzzled a nation known for its active diplomacy and peacekeeping missions in the world. For America on the other hand, it is time to look within.

July 26, 2011


Monday, July 25, 2011

Welcome to the new secretary general of the CARICOM secretariat

By Ian Francis

Ambassador La Rocque’s appointment as secretary general of the CARICOM Secretariat is welcome news and is worthy of my support. I have no doubt that he will serve the secretariat and regional governments in a deserving manner. While his appointment is a boost for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), his presence as a senior sailor on the ongoing turbulent ship of the Secretariat cannot be ignored. He opted to say aboard and as a result he has now achieved the task of being at the helm. So what next, Ambassador?

Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at info@visminconsultancy.caWhat can the new secretary general do that will not only impress his Council of Ambassadors but also the diverse populations and institutions in the region. Many suggestions and ideas have been expressed in the past but apparently fell on deaf ears. It is sincerely hoped that Ambassador La Rocque has re-tuned his GSP and will listen to the growing cries for radical reform within the Secretariat.

There is no doubt that the new secretary general and chairperson of CARICOM share similar vision on the need for change and renewal in the organization. However, this is not enough as the chronic problem lies within the inability of other regional heads to seriously embrace change and move forward. Without their concurrence and engagement for renewal within the organization, it will be extremely difficult for the secretary general and chairperson to implement anything new that will allow the organization to move forward. Let’s not ignore the possible existing reality that many regional heads may not be interested in any form of organizational tinkering.

At the inter-sectional meeting in Grenada a few months ago, regional heads arrived and left with a newly coined term of “Council of Ambassadors:” Since then little has been heard about the Council of Ambassadors. Recently, at the annual July pow-wow held in St Kitts, there was no mention of the Council of Ambassadors in the final communiqué of the pow-wow. This begs the question, has the concept of the Council received its burial certificate or is the wake still in progress? Answers are needed so the population of the region can understand what is taking place.

Returning to the challenge of the new secretary general, it is felt that there are a number of administrative and operational matters that he can immediately tackle. There must be a halt to the growing gravy train within the Secretariat. No multilateral agency should become so dependent on project funding, especially when such funding becomes self seeking and is geared to support certain staffing measures. It is an early warning; however, the Secretary General must recognize it will become crashing one day.

Recently, there were some sobering comments by Barbados Prime Minister Stuart with respect to the Secretariat’s reliance on foreign funding, which makes up 57% of the Secretariat’s operational budget. He suggested that other ways must be examined in order to enhance the Secretariat’s ability in decreasing its dependence on foreign donors.

Prime Minister Stuart’s comments are very reassuring; I have always felt that CARICOM’s inability to assist member states had nothing to do with technical capacity but rather being encumbered in a grantsmanship survival mode. Donor funding for irrelevant projects became the norm in order for the Secretariat to be maintained administratively. In spite of the vulgarity of this approach, some understanding and support must be afforded to the Secretariat because there is no way that CARICOM members can mobilize sufficient financial resources to support the Secretariat. If some member states cannot even meet a timely and consistent method for disbursing operational funds to their foreign missions, then how on earth can they adequately maintain the Georgetown outfit?

It is fully recognized and expected that the CARICOM Secretariat will continue its grantsmanship strategy to ensure protection of staff and friendly consultants. However, with fairness and sensitivity to the ongoing needs of member states, the Secretariat ought to be doing some more planning with member states about the type of projects that funding is being sought for. It is essential that member states be the beneficiaries and outcomes are filtered down to populations. Too often, there is a tendency for the CARICOM Secretariat to be engaged in initiatives that member states know little about.

So, Mr Secretary General, your tasks are clearly defined and it is hoped that you can get to work quickly. Here are some of my suggestions that should be placed on your priority list:

-- Urging of member states to appoint diplomatic representatives to the Secretariat so there is a collective grouping that you can interface with regularly, in and between ministerial and Council of Ambassadors pow-wow. .

-- Address overstaffing and incompetence within the Secretariat. There must be some trimming and streamlining done immediately.

-- Reviews, reorganization and elimination of some of the unproductive regional institutions that fall under the ambit of the Secretariat.

-- An immediate resolution of the internal administrative problems at IMPACS. A swift resolution could bring immediate relief to the suspended former executive director. Also, a full and urgent review of this agency is required to determine its future operations and mandate.

-- The ongoing saga pertaining to the lack of membership in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is a burning issue that should not be ignored. A political strategy or mechanism must be put in place to ensure membership of all CARICOM members.

Finally, good luck in your new endeavours and I sincerely hope that the leaders of the regional agency will function as a timely and serious governing body.

July 25, 2011


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Old problems for Caricom's New Secretary General of the Guyana-based Secretariat... Irwin LaRocque

Old problems for Caricom's New SG

‘Cool’ guy in a ‘hot’ seat


LAROCQUE... Caricom’s new secretary general

THE formal appointment of Irwin LaRocque as the new secretary general of the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat is expected to be completed this week with a letter from current Community chairman Dr Denzil Douglas, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis.

For almost six years, starting in September 2005, the Dominican-born economist has been functioning as one of three assistant secretaries general of the 38-year-old Community. His chief responsibility was Trade and Economic Integration.

At 56, LaRocque's choice as SG has come as a surprise to officials of various regional organisations, who prefer not to be quoted, as well as to the Community Secretariat staffers, who prefer to comment more on his "politeness" and "respect for procedures" within the administrative structure than on other factors.

He was chosen from a shortlist of five candidates, submitted by a "search committee" that was established by the Heads of Government last August following the decision of Edwin Carrington to retire at the end of 2010 after 18 years as secretary general. That development itself took place against the backdrop of what some have euphemistically termed a " very frank dialogue" in Jamaica involving Carrington and then Caricom chairman Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

So, after some ten months of work by a "search committee" whose terms of reference, including the required skills and expertise of a new secretary general, were never clearly outlined as public information, the five shortlisted candidates were interviewed by the Caricom Bureau and, finally, by a process of telephone conversations, LaRocque was announced as the new secretary general.

As some highly respected and experienced regional technocrats and thinkers see it, Caricom's 15 Heads of Government now have a new SG on board in the person of an "in-house" appointee, but are still far removed from dealing with the pivotal factor to which they themselves have often referred -- the urgent need for a "comprehensive review" of the structure and functioning of the Secretariat.

Comprehensive' change

Although they had at their disposal a range of mandated studies and reports by reputable West Indian thinkers on how to make governance of the Community relevant to current regional and international demands, the Caricom leaders simply failed to pay heed to recommendations and opted instead to appoint a United Kingdom-based consultancy firm, Landell Mills Ltd, to provide them with a report on what should be done.

The three-member team comprised two foreigners -- Richard Stoneman. 'management consultant'; and Hugo Inniss, 'financial management expert' -- with Duke Pollard, retired Guyana-born jurist of the Caribbean Court of Justice and former Caricom official, as the third member.

Their terms of reference require the development of a "set of recommendations that would, when implemented, secure the comprehensive restructuring of the Caricom Secretariat and enhance its capacity to carry out its administrative, technical and other functions as prescribed by the Revised Treaty" of the Community.

The jargon is familiar -- in usage for at least a dozen years -- but it may be revealing to learn who participated in shaping the terms of reference of this latest "review team" on the future structure and functioning of the Community Secretariat, which continues to limp along, year after year, with policies neglected and programmes/projects deferred.

Both the new secretary general as well as the current Community chairman, Prime Minister Douglas, who has glowingly declared LaRocque as possessing "the requisite skills of visionary leadership, courage and commitment to guide the Community at this time of change and uncertainty", would be fully aware of the harsh realities that have been affecting the governance of Caricom's affairs these many years.

General 'ineffectiveness'

This ineffectiveness which would be intolerable for any serious management structure in the private sector is spread across the operations of Caricom and include the declining efficiency and required commitment to creative initiatives from the Community's primary organ -- the Heads of Government -- to its Directorates (Foreign and Community Relations; Regional Trade and Economic Integration and Human and Social Development).

When LaRocque formally assumes duty as new secretary general, his post will become vacant. The post of assistant secretary general for Human and Social Development has been vacant for some months now, and soon too will be the assistant secretary general for Foreign and Community Relations post.

In short, the Caricom Secretariat is lurching from one set of management problems to another as its political directorate makes good on talk, but acts poorly in carrying out policies and programmes.

It was inevitable that someone had to be chosen to replace Edwin Carrington. LaRocque is that choice. But the major problem continues to stare us all: a Secretariat clearly adrift in a sea of management problems and a regional integration movement beset by political leadership in dire need of re-energising.

As a journalist of the Caribbean region, sharing the hopes of committed professional colleagues, it is left for me to also extend best wishes to LaRocque whose "politeness" and capacity to "be cool", at times of tension and excitement, I also recognise. Time will tell how comfortably he occupies the SG's 'hot chair'.

LAROCQUE... Caricom's new secretary general

July 24, 2011


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bahamas: Whether or not a Bahamian decides to vote in the next general election, we all should register... Voting rights were fought for... We must all honor the sacrifice of the generations before us who struggled to ensure that there would be a fair electoral process...

Keep registering to vote

thenassauguardian editorial

Nassau, Bahamas

More than 100,000 Bahamians have already registered to vote. The Parliamentary Registration Department hopes to register 160,000 to 170,000 people to vote for the next general election. Considering that an election is not imminent – we likely have several months to go – we will likely reach the target set or come very close to it. Bahamians should know that they can register up until an election is called.

Whether or not a person decides to vote, we all should register. Many are unhappy with the two main political parties, and a good chunk of that group may ultimately decide not to vote. That is their democratic right. However, it would be wise nonetheless to still register.

By registering you give yourself a choice. At the last minute, a few days before the election, something may happen to make you want to vote for a candidate, or party or to vote against a candidate or party. You cannot make this decision if you do not register to vote and an election is called.

Voting rights were fought for. We must all honor the sacrifice of the generations before us who struggled to ensure that there would be a fair electoral process. It would be an insult to that struggle if Bahamians do not even care enough to register.

For those who do not see a candidate, party or leader they can support yet, register and keep watching and evaluating. The hard campaign has not yet begun. During this process there will be more to evaluate.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) will have to prove that they can inspire again, as many have become disenchanted with their rule. The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) will have to prove it is ready to govern and that it is not merely a tool of its leader’s ego.

We are the judge and jury. If we force them – the candidates, the leaders and the parties – they will do better. A key component of this power is voting. And to vote, you must register.

Jul 18, 2011

thenassauguardian editorial

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bain and Grants Town Association calls for a deepening of Bahamian democracy by the introduction of local government to New Providence

Call for local government in New Providence


Nassau, Bahamas

A LOCAL social activism group is calling for a deepening of Bahamian democracy by the introduction of local government to New Providence.

The Bain and Grants Town Association commended the government for the smooth running of the recently held Local Government elections in the Family Islands, and asked why a system which has survived for 15 years in the rest of the country has yet to be implemented in the capital, where more than two thirds of the population lives.

"The time has come, indeed come and gone, for a modern, effective and transparent system of Local Government to be introduced in New Providence and we hereby issue a very strong and urgent call for its formulation and implementation at the very earliest time possible", said Rev CB Moss, president of the association.

According to Rev Moss, Local Government should have been implemented in New Providence first and then extended to the Family Islands.

New Providence is one of the few significant democratic population centres in the world with only a single level of government, he pointed out.

"This anomaly has contributed to the stagnation of the development of the Bahamian society, as residents with tremendous potential residing in communities are underutilised and marginalised and their communities and the nation is deprived of their leadership skills and abilities to the detriment of all.

"Surely 41 persons in the national parliament cannot be expected, nor relied upon, to understand local concerns and aspirations, and to move the entire nation forward, upward, and onward."

Rev Moss pointed out that successive governments have promised to implement Local Government in New Providence, but none of them have delivered.

"Bain Grants Town, also known as Over-the Hill, has long been ready, willing and able to embrace Local Government in order to revitalise and renew what is the heartland of the Bahamas," he said.

July 20, 2011


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Caribbean and whaling... Shameful!

Shameful - The Caribbean and whaling

caribbeannewsnow editorial

It was a shameful sight -- three Caribbean countries walking in obedience behind Japan, discarding even the appearance of independence.

Joji Morishitain, the Japanese representative to a meeting last week in Jersey of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), announced he was walking out of the meeting, and the delegates of the three Caribbean countries – St Kitts-Nevis, Grenada and St Lucia – dutifully joined him.

What was the walk out about? Latin American nations, led by Brazil and Argentina, had proposed the creation of a sanctuary for whales in the South Atlantic. Currently there are two such whale havens, one in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica and the other in the Indian Ocean. When it was obvious that a majority of countries supported the Latin American proposal, the Japanese staged the walk out so as undermine a consensus decision.

There was no legitimate reason for the Caribbean countries to join Japan. Not one of them is a whale-hunting nation. Nor do any of them derive any economic or dietary benefit from whale-killing. Further, by joining Japan, the Caribbean countries ruptured their relations with their Latin American neighbours, with whom they are associated in the Latin American and Caribbean Group in the United Nations system.

In the creation of the South Atlantic sanctuary, the Latin American countries would have viewed Caribbean countries as their natural allies, particularly as they place considerable importance in its establishment. Undoubtedly, there will be a price to pay for this sabotage by Caribbean countries of Latin American interests, however stonily silent the Latin Americans have been so far.

Brazil and Argentina – two of the biggest nations in Latin America and the Caribbean – may have forgiven the Caribbean countries for not supporting them if there was a direct Caribbean interest in rejecting the whale sanctuary proposal. But, there is no direct Caribbean interest in saying “no” to the sanctuary. Many Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique operate healthy whale-watching businesses that have helped to diversify their tourism product, earn millions of dollars in foreign exchange and provide employment. A whale sanctuary is in their interest.

The blind walk-out by the three Caribbean countries, holding on to a Japanese kimono, reconfirmed an expose by the British Sunday Times newspaper last year that revealed Japan paying the accommodation and “expenses” of several delegates of Caribbean countries to the 2010 IWC meeting in Morocco.

Last week, a feisty Antiguan government minister employed evangelical zeal in opposing a resolution from European Union countries to stop some delegations (those that vote with Japan) from paying cash for their countries’ subscription to the IWC. The resolution was adopted despite the machinations of the Antigua minister, who played a supporting role to the representative of St Kitts-Nevis.

From now on, the IWC will only accept bank transfers directly from government accounts. This may well have the effect of stopping a few of these countries from attending the IWC meetings, unless Japan pays the money to the governments directly, proving what has been alleged all along.

Had the Antigua minister been present at the IWC meeting on the day the Japanese-led walk out was staged, undoubtedly there would have been a fourth Caribbean country in the procession.

The Caribbean delegates have returned to the Caribbean and given no account of why they opposed – albeit unsuccessfully – a resolution for transparency and accountability in paying the subscriptions of governments, and why they voted against their Latin American neighbours that wanted a South Atlantic whale sanctuary.

In the past, the Caribbean representatives to the IWC meetings have slavishly followed the Japanese line that whales devour fish stocks once they get to Caribbean waters, depriving Caribbean people of food. This claim has long been debunked as a falsehood, even though, as recently as last month, ministers from Antigua and St Lucia were repeating it parrot-fashion after a Japanese-organised meeting in St Lucia to prepare the participating Caribbean countries for last week’s IWC meeting in Jersey.

It is noteworthy that the government of Dominica, which was once part of the Japanese-kimono group, has held fast to a decision of its prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, to divorce his country from voting with Japan. Dominica sent no delegation to the IWC, maintaining its position that as the “nature isle of the Caribbean” it has a responsibility to its own reputation to sustain the marine life of its environment. The Skerrit government has won the respect and support of environmental and conservation organizations world-wide, whereas the other IWC-Caribbean countries are earning the odium of environmentalist organizations and the distrust of major governments, including those in Latin America.

The problem is that the world views the Caribbean as one area, and the actions of these four Caribbean countries, with a yen for Japan’s “kill-whale” position, are sullying the standing of other Caribbean countries that conduct their international business in their own interests.

We urge the governments of the majority of Caribbean nations to call the governments of these four countries to book on this issue in the interest of the region’s standing.

July 20, 2011

caribbeannewsnow editorial

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Serious problems developing in Belize

By Wellington C. Ramos

Seine Bight village is located in Stann Creek District, which is one of the southern districts where the Garifuna people have resided since they first landed in Belize. This village was founded by a group of Garifuna people, who migrated from the country of Honduras in the mid-1800s because of their involvement in the Revolutionary War for Honduras independence, when many of them were slaughtered.

Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and HistoryThe village was named after the net that the Garifuna people make to catch fish and the geographical location where it exists.

The Garifuna people are people that are mixed with African and Carib Indian from the island of Saint Vincent, who fought against the Spanish, French and British that were trying to take away their territory from them. On March 11, 1797, the British succeeded in conquering the Garifuna people and they were assembled and imprisoned on the island of Baliceaux before being deported to Roatán, Honduras, where they arrived on April 12, 1797.

South of Seine Bight village is Placencia village, a peninsula that is populated by people who are mostly of European ancestry. This village was founded by a group of British Puritans, who migrated from Nova Scotia in Canada to Belize in the 1600s when the British took Belize from Spain and started to bring their citizens to occupy the territory. This settlement died out during the Central American war for independence in the 1820s.

The Spaniards that travelled the southern coast of Belize gave Placencia its name. During that time Placencia was called Placentia, with the point being called Punta Placentia or Pleasant Point. The people of Placencia survived mainly by fishing up to the 19th century but since the 20th century, this village has been attracting a large number of tourists to its shores because of the beautiful beaches and the cayes that are adjacent to it.

Commercial activity has also stepped up and the population is growing fast with white foreigners. The demand for land is becoming a problem for Placencia residents because most of the land is in the area where Seine Bight is, which is closer to the Southern Highway.

These are two villages with different cultures and they want to live independently of each other but the Garifuna people are beginning to suspect that, since the people of Placencia are better off economically than they are, the Belize government will decide to side with the people from Placencia.

Historically, the people from Placencia have always supported the United Democratic Party, while the people from Seine Bight favoured the People’s United Party. The younger generation of Seinebightians is not loyal to the People’s United Party like their ancestors so the United Democratic Party should move cautiously with their expansion plan.

The People’s United Party has governed Belize more than the United Democratic Party and may have favoured Seine Bight over Placencia to get political support.

In 1962, shortly after hurricane Hattie, Prime Minister George Price had asked the Garifuna people to leave Dangriga Town, Seine Beight and Hopkins villages to live elsewhere. The two villages that were created for the Garifuna people were Georgetown, which was named after him, and Silk Grass. Some Garifuna families moved from Seine Bight to Georgetown but none from Dangriga Town or Hopkins.

Garifuna people felt that George Price was planning to move them to sell the land to rich investors and this would have had a severe impact on their culture because they are attached to the sea. Also, Silk Grass at the time was infested with sandflies, so that when we were children growing up in Dangriga Town we would refer to it as Sandfly village.

Recently, it was brought to my attention by a Belizean American woman serving in the American Armed Services, that she purchased a property in the village of Seine Bight. To her surprise, when she received her title to this property, the document had on the conveyance Northern Placencia. How can there be a Northern Placencia in the village of Seine Bight? I can more understand that in the description of the property the location could read north of Placencia which is completely different from what the document contains.

I was told that there is a proposal to change the name of Seine Bight to a new name. If the government of Belize or a group of people are planning to change the name of Seine Bight to another name, I would strongly advise them to bring that proposal to the Garifuna people from Seine Bight to decide. Such a proposal should be agreed upon at a town hall meeting and a referendum by the people of Seine Bight and then passage through the Belize House of Representatives and the Senate.

Any attempt by the government of Belize or any group to try and change the name of Seine Bight without going through this process will lead to retaliation from the Garifuna community in Belize and worldwide. I am not convinced that this government under Prime Minister Barrow will engage itself in such a foolish political exercise.

I am now calling on the Garifuna people from Seine Bight to take this issue seriously and start to ask some questions. Also, to request from the government that the boundaries of Seine Bight and Placencia villages be clearly defined. If the government of Belize is planning to exercise its right to eminent domain on the citizens of these two villages, that it be exercised fairly through consultations with the residents of both villages.

Seine Bight residents might be forced to sell their lands due to their economic conditions but they better make sure that they obtain the real value for their properties.

While Placencia is attracting tourists and Seine Bight has the Garifuna culture to display, both villages can benefit from this relationship. The Garifuna people in Seine Bight must now organize themselves to sell their culture while their neighbours in Placencia sell their beaches and cayes.

With the airport coming in that area soon, the value of the properties will likely increase, so it would not be wise to rush and sell your properties now.

July 18, 2011


Monday, July 18, 2011

Jamaica's Supreme Court ruled that certain amendments to Jamaica's Bail Act were unconstitutional... as The Bahamas attempts to craft amendments to its Bail and Criminal Justice Acts to keep serious offenders off the streets, and meet Privy Council standards to justify capital punishment in murder cases

Jamaica Supreme Court against mandatory bail

tribune242 editorial

Nassau, Bahamas

AS THE Bahamas attempts to craft amendments to the Bail and Criminal Justice Acts to keep serious offenders off the streets, and meet Privy Council standards to justify capital punishment in murder cases, Jamaica's Supreme Court ruled Friday that certain amendments to Jamaica's Bail Act were unconstitutional.

Like the Bahamas, serious crime has bedeviled Jamaica for many years, and, again like the Bahamas, Jamaica has attempted to stiffen its laws to protect its citizens.

In July last year, under the amendments, persons charged with serious offences in Jamaica could be denied bail up to 60 days.

However, two Jamaican lawyers, whose clients, charged with murder, were affected by the provision, challenged the amendment's removal of the citizen's right to bail. Of course, in all of these arguments, legal luminaries fail to factor in the law-abiding citizen's right to security and the government's duty to provide that security.

The two Jamaican lawyers also objected to the amendment's interference with the role of the judge to decide who should or should not get bail. It is true that judges should have the right to use their discretion in each case as to how each accused is treated. However, how does a community protect itself against a liberal judiciary that does not seem to appreciate the difficulties of the society in which it exists?

We have only to scan Nassau's murders of the past few weeks to appreciate what it would have meant if we had had a mandatory time in which murder accused, for example, could be held without bail. Several accused who are now dead would still be alive today to face trial. But no, a judge exercised his discretion, a lawyer won his client's case for bail, a gun was fired, and a funeral followed.

The cynic would say that the courts have been saved much time, and their criminal calendar reduced by the criminals taking the law into their own hands, by-passing trial and carrying out executions on the sidewalks. Vigilante justice will send our crime figures through the roof, threaten the country's reputation as a safe tourist resort, and our communities as safe places in which to live. We now have a choice -- mandatory bail for a reasonable period of time so that an accused person can get a fair trial, or let cases slide through the courts as they now do with the criminal deciding the verdict and becoming the executioner. Maybe these lawyers, who are trying to score brownie points with the number of clients they can get out on bail, should stop and think of the safety of their clients, even if they apparently give no thought to the safety of the community.

According to the report in Jamaica's Gleaner "the 60-day period in custody was subject to the right of the person being held to be brought before the court after seven days, and thereafter at 14-day intervals, at which time the court reviews the question of whether the person should continue to be held in custody or bail be considered. The prosecution also had the right to appeal against the granting of bail."

It seemed a reasonable proposal, especially in view of the danger zone in which the average Jamaican was being forced to live because of that country's level of crime. However, Jamaica's Supreme Court in a unanimous vote struck it out as unconstitutional.

The Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights praised the Supreme Court ruling saying that some human rights are protected by the constitution.

Some years ago Jamaicans were vocal about the Caribbean having its own court to replace the Privy Council, presumably on the very issue of being able to impose capital punishment in murder cases. Now that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is a reality -- established on February 14, 2001, coming into force in 2003-- the only countries so far to sign on have been Barbados, Belize and Guyana -- the rest, including Jamaica, are still with the judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

In fact the very issue that brought the Caribbean Court into existence -- the refusal of the Privy Council to allow capital punishment for persons convicted of murder who had spent more than five years in prison -- was in the end what kept Jamaica out.

The Jamaica Labour Party resisted the full powers of the CCJ on the grounds that it was a hanging court.

It's now up to the Bahamas government to bring in amendments that will help this community to curb crime and keep a serious offender behind bars until his case can be heard -- within a reasonable time -- before the courts.

July 18, 2011

tribune242 editorial

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas says: ...anyone in St. Kitts and Nevis or anywhere in the Caribbean, who possesses an illegal firearm, is distributing illegal firearms, or is selling illegal firearms, poses a serious threat to the stability of the region

Illegal weapons, a serious threat to stability of the Caribbean says PM Douglas

South Florida Caribbean News

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas says anyone in St. Kitts and Nevis or anywhere in the Caribbean, who possesses an illegal firearm, is distributing illegal firearms, or is selling illegal firearms, poses a serious threat to the stability of the region.

“And they pose a serious threat to the stability of his or her country,” says Dr. Douglas during his weekly radio programme on Tuesday.

Dr. Douglas said that as Chairman of the Caribbean Heads of Government over the next six months the trafficking of small arms in the region will be a matter for discussion and noted that the use of guns in the settlement of scores in recent years is alarming.

“This never, ever used to be the Caribbean way. But now, gang tensions, drug-related conflicts, and other forms of hostility are leading to this ugly and unacceptable conclusion. And so, CARICOM is taking this on frontally by pushing forward to break the illicit trade in small arms and weapons throughout the region,” said the Prime Minister.

He said this will not be either simple or easy.

“But we are resolute. And we are empowering both national and regional security forces with enhanced border patrol, forensic, and intelligence gathering tools to confront the organized crime elements that spread these deadly weapons,” Dr. Douglas said.

He said Caribbean Governments are also moving to bring the laws of the countries into synch with each other, so as to prevent criminal elements from being able to transfer illegal weapons from one Caricom country to another.

Dr. Douglas said anyone who has information about any such possession, distribution, or sale of firearms has an obligation to let the authorities know – whether anonymously or not.

“Whenever there is a shooting, and whenever there is a killing, if the gun was not licensed, that is clear evidence that some person or persons within the Federation colluded to bring that instrument of death into the country, and into the region, without the knowledge of the authorities,” said Dr. Douglas.

“These acts, along with the acts of those who grow drugs, or who import drugs into the region, undermine and undercut the positive efforts of the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Caribbean nationals who try so hard, day after day, and year after year, to stay on the straight and narrow. None of us in the Caribbean can afford to look the other way when someone we know is involved in these activities. As sure as the day is long, precisely those illegal weapons or those illegal narcotics that are not reported to the authorities will, in all likelihood, one day claim either the person who looked the other way, or someone that person holds dear,” said the Prime Minister.

He expressed CARICOM’s determination to confront the spread of illegal firearms throughout the region was a major focus of CARICOM s recently concluded meeting.

He said not only does every Caribbean national need to know this, but they need to ensure that if ever and whenever they have information pertaining to the presence of illegal drugs and illegal weapons they have a pressing and urgent obligation to ensure that, one way or the other – and providing it anonymously is fine - information gets to the relevant authorities.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

...much of today's social problems in The Bahamas stem from the fact that young people have no respect for human life

Many youth have lost respect for human life

tribune242 editorial

Nassau, Bahamas

IN THE wake of the three murders --double shooting and a stabbing Tuesday night -- that brought the murder count to 72 for the first seven months of the year, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade had some observations.

He restated his belief that much of today's social problems stem from the fact that young people have no respect for human life.

"All human beings have an inherent right to life and their dignity is to be respected," he said. "What is unfortunate is that there is still far too many relatively young people in our communities, adult young persons who have no respect for themselves, no respect for other persons, no respect for the laws of the land, and they continue to commit crime."

Bishop Laish Boyd, head of the Anglican Church, yesterday took up the theme. Everyone, said the Bishop, has to stop turning a blind eye to crime, not just violent crime, but also petty crimes, such as disrespect for law and order. We are living in a time, he said, when people no longer have respect for the church.

"For some people," said the Bishop, "any target is fair game, including the church. There used to be a time when people respected the church, but that is changing."

Bishop Boyd believes that only a minority feel this way. The "majority still see the church and its values as sacred," he said.

Some of us at The Tribune are not surprised at what is happening today. We have lived long enough to have seen the storm brewing, gathering strength and threatening to tear our society asunder. Go back in our files and read of how many times the editor of this newspaper warned of the vortex into which we were being sucked -- a vortex that would eventually tear a God-fearing society apart.

The late Sir Etienne Dupuch, who wrote those columns, had a special gift of being able to see the future with tremendous clarity. Those who did not like what they read from his pen, dismissed him as the "Voice of Doom." But, if he were here today, he could say with sad conviction: "I told you so."

Today's social problems did not just "growed like Topsy." They took a long time coming. They had their birth in politics.

There was early disrespect for institutions, community leaders, teachers, parents, each other and eventually ourselves.

We recall how the budding PLP encouraged young people to disrespect the leaders of this country by calling them by their first names -- this was the way government leaders were addressed in their party newspaper. We shall never forget the shock we got the day we saw the late Finance Minister Sir Stafford Sands cross Bay Street to enter the House of Assembly. From the pavement a youngster shouted at him: "Hey, Stafford!"

Something like that could never have happened in the Bahamas in which we grew up. But the disrespect of elders, particularly if they held positions of importance, was encouraged in the early days of the PLP. Those were the days when letter writers to The Tribune were afraid to sign their names for publication. We remember a house being stoned one night because the occupant was thought to have written a letter critical of the PLP to The Tribune.

Discipline was broken down in the schools. We recall the lament of the late headmaster Vince Ferguson of how school discipline was being undermined. He told us of the day that he disciplined a young boy by sending him home only to have a chauffeur-driven car arrive at the school the next morning, with instructions from Prime Minister Pindling that the boy was to be readmitted. The cheeky youngster swept past the headmaster, giving the high five sign as he grinned his way back to the classroom.

Mr Ferguson predicted that the boy faced a bleak future with the law. We believe that his prediction came to pass.

Today disgruntled parents go to school to "cus out" and "beat up" teachers if they don't like the manner in which a situation has been handled with their child. In earlier times, a child would be too scared to tell his parents about a teacher disciplining him, fearing that he would get a second belting from an angry parent. We can hear it now: "How dare you be rude to your teacher?"

So what can you expect of the children when the parents are out of control?
Elections became rowdy, stone-throwing events. Out of control PLP goon squads closed down political rallies, denying Bahamians their freedom of speech.

The late Eugene Dupuch, QC, would shake his head sadly with the Biblical words: "They know not what they do." He often commented on how human emotions could not be turned on and off like a water faucet. Once the floodgates are open, they cannot be closed, he said. In other words, what the PLP had unleashed on the community would come back to haunt them. It did, but in the end we have all been caught in the rush of those open floodgates -- human emotions run amok.

Sir Lynden lived long enough to look back on his past and admit at a PLP convention in 1990 that he had made a mistake.

"We told them," he said, "they were too good to be gardeners, too good to be sanitation men, too good to work with their hands" -- in the end it was bad advice. Attitudes, he said, had to change.

In this column tomorrow, we shall let Sir Lynden speak. He himself will tell you how it went wrong.

What he will say is the basis of many of today's problems - even the Haitian problem.

It is now time for these politicians - especially PLP politicians - to stop pointing accusing fingers, because it is their counterparts over the years who have been the major culprits in creating today's turmoil. It's now time for them to step down from their holier-than-thou pedestals and help find solutions.

July 14, 2011

tribune242 editorial

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sudan: The Leftover Country

By Gwynne Dyer:

THE FLAGS have been waved, the anthem has been sung, and the new currency will be in circulation next week: the Republic of South Sudan has been launched, and is off to who knows where? Perdition, probably, for it is a 'pre-failed state', condemned by its extreme poverty, 15 per cent literacy and bitter ethnic rivalries to more decades of violence and misery. But what about the country it leaves behind?

It's telling that there is a South Sudan, but no North Sudan. What's left is still just Sudan. It's still the second-biggest country in Africa, and it still has four-fifths of the people it had before the south broke away. But it has lost a big chunk of its income: almost three-quarters of the old united country's oil was in the south. It's also an Arab country run by a dictator who has been in power for 22 years. So we know what comes next, don't we?

The dictator, President Omar al-Bashir, is unquestionably a Bad Man. He seized power in a military coup in 1989, and he is the first serving head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). In 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in his conduct of the war in the rebellious province of Darfur. It added three counts of genocide last year. But he's not all bad.

He inherited a much bigger war, between the predominantly Muslim north of the country and what is now South Sudan. It was a squalid, dreadful affair that killed about two million southerners and drove another four million - about half the southern population - from their homes. Bashir has a lot of blood on his hands. But he eventually realised that the south could not be held by force, and he had the wisdom and courage to act on his insight.

In 2005, he ended the fighting by agreeing that the two parts of the country would be run by separate governments for six years, after which the south would hold a referendum on independence. He knew that the south would say "yes" overwhelmingly - in the end, 98.83 percent of southern Sudanese voted to have their own country - yet he never reneged on the deal.

"President Bashir and (his) National Congress Party deserve a reward," said Salva Kiir, now the president of South Sudan, after the votes were counted in February. And Bashir said: "We will come and congratulate and celebrate with you ... . We will not hold a mourning tent." His decision made him very vulnerable politically in the north, but he stuck to it for all these years, and as a result many tens of thousands of people who would have died are still alive.

That doesn't necessarily mean that north-south relations will be smooth after the South's independence. Most of the oil is in South Sudan, but the new country is landlocked: the oil can only be exported through pipelines that cross Sudan proper to reach the Red Sea. Yet there is not a deal on revenue-sharing yet, nor even on the border between the two countries.

Immediate problem

Bashir's immediate problem is economic. The deal to split the oil revenue equally between north and south lapsed with South Sudan's independence, and he is bringing in harsh austerity measures and a new currency as part of a three-year 'emergency programme' to stabilise the economy. But the price of food is already soaring in Khartoum as confidence in the Sudanese pound collapses.

Unaffordable food was a major factor in the popular revolts against oppressive Arab regimes in recent months, and Bashir is trying to insulate himself against that by promising stricter enforcement of Islamic law in Sudan. That may win him some support among the Muslim, Arabic-speaking majority, but by the same token, it will further alienate the north's remaining religious and ethnic minorities. So more rebellions in the outlying regions.

On top of all that, Bashir will forever be seen, however unfairly, as the man who 'lost' the south. His status as an indicted war criminal does him no harm with the majority population at home; his failure to crush the southerners by force is what really undermines him. So he may soon have to go abroad and live with his money.

He did one good thing in his life, and no good deed goes unpunished.

Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

July 14, 2011


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tomorrow's Bahamas depends on today's Bahamian

tribune242 editorial

Nassau, Bahamas

TODAY WE hear so much about outsiders -- particularly Haitians--insinuating themselves into our society in such large numbers that they will eventually take over the country and push Bahamians into the background.

Before we consider the validity of that claim, let's take a moment to discover who Bahamians really are. Each and every one of us claims to be Bahamian. For example, The Tribune family is fourth generation Bahamian, entering into a sixth generation. Others go back much further than that, but together we all regard ourselves as native Bahamians. However, each of us has come to this country by a different route, at a different time and for different reasons.

When the forebears of today's Bahamians arrived they were foreigners. Many did not even speak the same language, some formed small communities and stayed to themselves, keeping their own language and history alive among their children. However, eventually after a generation or two they all meshed seamlessly into a society with which they identified and called their own. They are today's Bahamians.

None of us can trace our roots back to the Lucayans who Columbus found here when he put this small country on the map in 1492. And so none of us can claim to be the true original.

Wrote the late Dr Paul Albury in The Story of the Bahamas: "After the Lucayans were taken away to slavery and death, a human silence settled over the Bahamas. The forests once again claimed the land which they had cleared to build their houses, to grow their crops and to lay their batos. It was as if the Island People had never existed."

No matter how far back one goes in their lineage today no Bahamian can claim a link to a Lucayan. But we consider ourselves the real McCoy -- the true Bahamian.

Much history passed between then and the granting of these islands -- first to Sir Robert Heath in 1629 and later to the Eleutheran Adventurers in 1647. Eventually slavery was introduced.

With the passage of history, much of it filled with human tragedy, today's Bahamian and our mixed society was formed. This society's roots go way back into Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas -- almost every ethnic group is represented, including the Haitian -- but nowhere is the Lucayan to be found.

The reason that the Haitians have created such a problem for the Bahamas today is that they have arrived in such large numbers, and, other than their labour, and a willingness to learn, they have little to offer. They have even less to offer when so many of them are illegal and cannot fully participate in the society. Even Bahamians of Haitian heritage find their presence an embarrassing strain on our social services.

It is for this reason that the Haitian question should be high on the agenda after the next election. Those Haitians with jobs and family ties should be regularised so that they can contribute to the society in which they live by paying national insurance, opening bank accounts, being able to get a mortgage to purchase their own homes and generally do business in a normal way. Decisions have to be made about the future of children born here of Haitian parents, who attend school, know no other country, and think of themselves as Bahamians. They are in the same position in this country as were the forebears of each us at some stage of our personal history.

It depends upon how we treat them today as to what kind of citizens they will make tomorrow. If they are not assimilated into the society, then, yes, possibly as time passes they will take over.

Bahamians have fought long and hard for a unified society -- a One Bahamas. This is no time to fracture it further by introducing another equation of inequality for the future.

No one wants our children and grandchildren to have to face a new Bahamian with an inferiority complex, a chip on the shoulder or, one who is ready in every encounter to show a clenched fist and quietly plot an overthrown. One doesn't have to look too far around the world today to find examples of what could happen if we don't tread carefully in considering this human problem.

Therefore, the Haitian question has to be debated, carefully considered and solved as humanely as possible.

Really it is up to today's Bahamian as to what the future holds for tomorrow's Bahamas.

July 13, 2011

tribune242 editorial

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bahamas: illegal immigration problem that has grown too large for such a small country

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

tribune242 editorial

Nassau, Bahamas

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION has become an emotional problem -- in fact it has become a Haitian problem.

"They cluttering up my road; they too biggety; they think they own the place; the women breed too many children; they going to take us over... we got to get rid of them," is the oft heard Bahamian bleat.

To hear many Bahamians talk one would think they are talking of eradicating a swarm of locusts, not human beings with the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us. As a matter of fact these people expect little, but they too have hopes for a better future for their children. They are too humble to expect much, but to be able to put a roof over the heads of their families and provide them a meal a day, no matter how meagre, can bring a smile to their faces.

We always hear about Haitians, but the problem is far wider and more problematic than that. There is also a problem with other undocumented immigrants -- Jamaicans for example -- who are quietly imbedded in our society. And so, it is not only a Haitian problem, it's an illegal immigration problem that has grown too large for such a small country.

Each government has expended much effort and expense on rounding them up and returning them to Haiti. In the early days it was handled in a most inhumane way. They were hunted in the bush by dogs; they were yanked from their homes at the crack of dawn and their empty homes left to the thieving paws of marauding Bahamians. Families were broken up, no compassion was shown. The inhumanity was so severe during an earlier period that many of them fled in rickety boats headed for the US. However, many drowned in the Gulf. We recall writing at the time how we could not understand how many government ministers of that era could sleep at night with such human tragedy on their doorsteps. But sleep they did as the raids grew even more cruel, with many callous Bahamians cheering them on. We often wondered if these Bahamians ever thought of these poor people as they dressed up in their Sunday finery, clutching their Bibles as they made their fashion parade to church.

And then we noticed that the absence of the Haitians was starting to show. Many beautiful gardens throughout the island were growing up in weeds -- no Bahamians wanted to do Haitian work. And so, obviously, these Haitians had provided a service that Bahamians felt was too demeaning for them. Haitians were obviously needed to fill the gap. Added to which many of them have a work ethic that many Bahamians are yet to grasp. The illegal question has to be debated humanely. For example, what should be the policy when a Bahamian man goes to Jamaica, marries a Jamaican woman and brings her to Nassau. Shortly afterwards children who she had in a previous relationship want to visit their step dad. They come, they go to school and they stay. What is their position or what should it be? Already the Immigration Department has issued about 130 spousal permits for Jamaican wives.

Our suggestion is that there should be a period of amnesty during which time all undocumented immigrants could register. Those who have jobs are obviously needed, and should be documented. Those who have no steady means of employment, should be individually interviewed and, depending on their situation, a decision should be made about their future.

But a panel of upstanding Bahamians - pastors among them - should discuss the matter. Meetings should be held in each of the constituencies to discover the impact the immigrants are having in each particular area, and suggestions from residents of how they think those problems should be resolved.

After many meetings and much debate the government should prepare a White Paper outlining future policy.

The immigrants will then know what is required of them. Immigration officers also will know what is expected of them and the penalties for operating a side-door racket.

This is a thorny subject that must be aired and dealt with humanely if there is to be peace in this country. And to ensure that peace, ways and means must be found to integrate these immigrants into our society so that their succeeding generations truly will be Bahamian.

As a matter of fact over the years many immigrants -- including Haitians -- have been successfully integrated into our society. One must never forget that the first black Bahamian to sit in our parliament was of Haitian heritage.

Also we must never forget that as the world turns misfortune could set our own grandchildren and great grandchildren adrift on the open seas looking for a safe haven to cast anchor. Hopefully they will be treated with the same compassion that these helpless ones are now seeking from us.
And in your deliberations never forget Matthew 7:12 - the Golden Rule:

"All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets."

July 08, 2011

tribune242 editorial

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bahamas: 50% of beds at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) are registered to diabetic or hypertensive patients while 70% of Bahamians have chronic illnesses

70 per cent of Bahamians 'have chronic illnesses'


Nassau, Bahamas

FIFTY per cent of beds at the Princess Margaret Hospital are registered to diabetic or hypertensive patients while 70 per cent of Bahamians have chronic illnesses, it was revealed yesterday.

Health Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said treating the number of patients for chronic illnesses places a strain on the public purse, though he did not give an exact figure.

"At PMH, approximately 50 per cent of the beds are registered to persons with diabetes or hypertension. The government spends about $200 million on health care so that should give you an indication as to how much is spent on medication and treatment of patients with chronic illnesses," said Dr Minnis on the sidelines of the launch of the National Insurance Board's 12-week Employee Health and Wellness Programme.

The public hospital has been taxed with an influx of trauma patients due to a rise in violent crime, but "before this it was mostly diabetic and hypertensive patients," he said.

Dr Minnis endorsed NIB's encouragement to staff to live a healthy lifestyle. He said he hopes the publicity generated from the programme will spur more Bahamians to live better and "decrease the need for us to utilise the medical services."

NIB Director Algernon Cargill implored all employees at the insurance board to participate in the initiative, not only to lower overall health costs for the board but to become examples for the community. The goal is to have all employees reduce current weight by eight per cent and live healthier lives.

He said: "This programme that we have that was modelled after the healthy people programme, as a part of the National Prescription Drug Plan will allow us to be ambassadors of health to show the public that we believe in what we're saying."

Employees at NIB expressed gratitude for the initiative during the launch at NIB headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.

"It's an excellent programme because it's going to encourage the staff to live and be healthy. I applaud Mr Cargill and the committee who put this all together for us, it was very considerate," said Antonette Sands, after dancing with the Colours junkanoo group during a celebratory rush out.

Camille Rolle, who is also registered for the programme, joked: "Lord knows, the staff at NIB needed it."

NIB's Medical Director Dr Kevin Bowe hopes his participation will allow the public to see the agency can practice what it preaches.

He said: "As medical practitioners and health care professionals, we promote the importance of being healthy to others but sometimes don't follow it ourselves and so we're doing this to show Bahamians that we are going to be living what we preach."

Every member of NIB is asked to participate in the campaign, which will be held from July 11 to October 7.

July 08, 2011


Friday, July 8, 2011

There are four kinds of Bahamian politicians in The Bahamas: the lotioner, the grunt, the lone wolf and the bulldog

Portrait of the ‘lone wolf’

By Ian Strachan
Nassau, Bahamas

Last week I told you there were three kinds of Bahamian politicians. I was wrong. There are actually four. And since I neglected to even say what the three were, let’s get the four names out of the way early. The four types are the ‘lotioner’, the ‘grunt’, the ‘lone wolf’ and the ‘bulldog’. I told you last week about the Lotioner. The leader who leads from behind. The lotioner is the prototypical or classic politician, when you really think about it. Mostly talk, very little action.

The grunt I won’t waste time on. He’s just the kind of guy who hangs onto the coattails of the people in charge. He does what he’s told. He’s a follower really, a drone. So let’s leave him alone and deal with the big boys.

Next up: The lone wolf. Lone wolves can make inspiring, innovative, political leaders. But the truth is they are happier people if they lead in some other sphere than politics—some sphere where you don’t need people to vote for you. They probably do best as businessmen or civic leaders. They are natural leaders, don’t get me wrong. They are driven by passion, by ideals, not by the desire for attention or the desire for power. Well, to be precise, they want power, certainly, but they want it so they can turn the world into what they want it to be. They’re not all charismatic but they can all get in front of the crowd when they have to. The Lone Wolf wants you to hear him more than he wants you to see him.

He has strength of purpose. He can be visionary. But it’s hard for him to play the game of politics. It’s easy for the lone wolf to be political, but he often fails at being a “politician.” The lone wolf has a hard time doing what political survival and political success often call for: Lying, bribing, flattering or BSing the people. Which probably means he won’t last long. Lone wolves make great martyrs. They can’t keep their big mouths shut.

Sometimes, the lone wolf wants to be in charge but he doesn’t want to earn it. He wants you to just hand it to him because heck, he’s obviously the best man for the job. He will probably never earn it because he has a very hard time playing the game of hand go hand come. He’s rarely a good broker of deals. He has trouble understanding why everybody is not motivated by the same thing he is. In short, he wants to be in the game, needs to be in the game, will have no peace if he doesn’t get in there and t’row his blow, but he doesn’t want to play the game by the game’s rules. He wants a different set of rules. He wants to make the game over. He is prone to delusions of grandeur, you might say.

You see, hundreds and thousands have been playing the game just as it is and have no desire or will to change it. And to get to the top of a political party, you need to slip the delegates some cash, promise this one and that one a contract, guarantee this one a job for their louse of a son and that one a promotion they don’t deserve, grin up with scummies of various stripes, but he can’t bring himself, won’t bring himself to do it. He therefore can never really rise to number one under normal circumstances. He fails to understand that though he may be in politics because of a high sense of duty, or because he has what he thinks is something unique to contribute, others are there because they are trying to get over, trying to get ahead or trying to just plain survive. He won’t grease and he won’t lotion, so he remains respected but never trusted. He is a man of action, a man who gets things done. But secret deals often get made after he leaves the room. He is only made aware and included when the leader needs ideas and needs the right language. He is included when the organization needs to really get a difficult job done, a job that requires strategic thinking, analysis, eloquence, hard work and vigilance. But he’s not there when the spoils, the “unofficial spoils” are being discussed and divided.

On a basic level, politics, for the politician, is not so much about right and wrong as it is about compromise. Half measures are often the only measures that are possible. The lone wolf has an all or nothing personality, but in politics you never get “all”, so he usually settles for nothing. (Lone wolves do better as political advisers and consultants, speech writers and strategists, the power behind the throne. They last longer).

There’s another problem with the lone wolf. You have to follow before you can lead in this world and the lone wolf, in his impatience, in his passion, in his pride, in his faith and his own specialness has real trouble following. Lone wolves are never content unless they’re in charge; not really. Oh, they can endure someone else’s leadership for a while but eventually, inevitably, they get cross about something, and lose faith; eventually they’ll jump ship or do something that causes the captain to make them walk the plank.

Even if the lone wolf is in charge, he finds it extremely difficult to share leadership, even if it is going to strengthen his advantage or his cause. He does not trust anyone to properly implement his vision. So this kind of leader is normally less effective than he should be and is probably the most likely of all to burn himself out. (Which feeds his martyr complex).

Because the lone wolf is motivated most by his own principles (and ambitions?), not merely by the pleasures of being part of the winning side, he is the most likely to break party ranks. Because the lone wolf believes he’s the best man for the job, he normally can’t handle being passed over for someone else and can’t endure slowly climbing the ladder. He launches out alone. Better to be leader of a party with five thousand followers than a deputy in a party with forty thousand, apparently.

Oh, and one more thing; the lone wolf is blind to his limitations. He believes things are easier to accomplish than they actually are. And no matter how many times he fails, he is never cured of this affliction: this blind belief that he can do anything he sets his mind to and do it quickly and easily. What he thinks will take three months takes nine. What he thinks will take five years takes 15. But he charges on, normally blazing a trail. A trail ain’t nobody else interested in blazin’, cause they already know it’s too hard or will take too long.

Many political lone wolves die forgotten, penniless or heartbroken, haunted by the thousand good ideas they never brought to reality, the brilliant schemes left half-hatched, the scores of project blue prints gathering dust in the corner of some silent room in their homes. At his best, the lone wolf’s lack of conventional wisdom allows him to achieve remarkable feats. His lack of concern for his own long term political/professional survival challenges everybody around him to step up their game. His level of commitment and intensity makes others look bad. Unfortunately though, a lone wolf often ends up destroyed by the powerful people he helped gain that power, because he eventually decides to play the hero. He takes some principled stand instead of being quiet and being loyal to the team.

Who are the lone wolves? Randol Fawkes, Carlton Francis, Edmund Moxey and Cecil Wallace Whitfield come to mind. B.J. Nottage and Paul Moss perhaps.

Jul 07, 2011