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Friday, November 23, 2012

Lifting the Cuban embargo

By Ramesh Sujanani, Jamaica Gleaner Contributor
Sometime ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly shared the view that the United States' embargo against Cuba helps the Castros, noting, "It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo, and do not want to see normalisation with the United States."

Clinton said in the same interview that "we're open to changing with them," though the US government maintains its strong position against lifting the embargo.

The fact is that Cuban-Americans, most of whom reside in Miami, had their property and other assets confiscated by Fidel Castro, worth almost US$6 billion. Should the embargo be lifted, these persons will require compensation for personal assets seized. Who will make good that claim by the Cuban migrants? Many are protesting Castro's reasons for becoming the dictator, and are not satisfied Castro will honour his obligations. These Cuban-Americans have supported Obama's Florida campaign, and it seems that as long as it takes to recover their assets, they will continue to support him.

There are no other considerations, as the effect of battle (Bay of Pigs), and the Cuban Missile Crisis, seemed to have been relinquished. The Cato Institute in the USA remarked: "The embargo has been a failure by every measure. It has not changed the course or nature of the Cuban government. It has not liberated a single Cuban citizen. In fact, the embargo has made the Cuban people a bit more impoverished, without making them one bit more liberated. At the same time, it has deprived Americans of their freedom to travel and has cost US farmers and other producers billions of dollars of potential exports."

I might add that it has also affected Jamaica's, and CARICOM's, trade possibilities with Cuba which may have been fruitful. As it is at this time, we employ Cuban doctors and other medical assistants to improve our skills in medicine, and we have sent patients into Cuba who require ophthalmic operations; it seems their availability of this discipline is greater than ours.

The embargo does place the people in poverty, but as Mrs Clinton said, it indicates that the State prefers to have a docile and ignorant population.

I have heard from various Jamaicans who seem to feel various past governments in Jamaica seem to have a similar intent, though I cannot understand why this would occur in this country. It seems a well-respected member of the Church, Pope John Paul II, had that on his mind about Cuba.

Some religious leaders oppose the embargo for a variety of reasons, including the humanitarian and economic hardships the embargo imposes on Cubans. Pope John Paul II called for an end to the embargo during his 1979 pastoral visit to Mexico. However, during his January 1998 visit to Cuba, Pope John Paul II delivered his most powerful attack against President Fidel Castro's government, urging the Roman Catholic Church to take "courageous and prophetic stands in the face of the corruption of political or economic power" and to promote human rights within Cuba.

While also opposing the embargo, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches stated, "We did not understand the depth of the suffering of Christians under communism, and we failed to really cry out under the communist oppression." The US bishops called for an end to the embargo after Pope Benedict's visit this year. Cuba has also dubbed as 'theft' the use of frozen Cuban assets to pay for lawsuits filed in the US against the Republic of Cuba.

On Thursday, June 10, 2010, seventy-four of Cuba's dissidents signed a letter to the US Congress in support of a bill that would lift the travel ban for Americans wishing to visit Cuba. The letter supports a bill introduced on February 23 by Representative Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, that would bar the president from prohibiting travel to Cuba or blocking transactions required to make such trips. It also would bar the White House from stopping direct transfers between US and Cuban banks.

The signers stated: "We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen civil society."

At this time, Americans with family in Cuba are allowed to travel and visit them; they are also allowed to bring in foodstuffs and other necessities.

Ramesh Sujanani is a businessman. Email feedback to and

Jamaica Gleaner

November 24, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Caribbean people need to re-educate themselves and fight for social change

By Hudson George

Caribbean people need to re-educate themselves to fit into a changing world that is globalised by capitalism. Some of the religious and political values the majority of Caribbean people are trying to hold on to were indoctrinated in them during the colonial era by the capitalists. However, the capitalist system always keeps changing and, with the constant changes in capitalism, moral values within society changes too.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
Unfortunately, the majority of Caribbean people do not understand how the capitalist system functions, and they seem to hold on the Christian values given to them by the capitalists during slavery. In some Caribbean countries people take the law into their own hands and punish citizens who participate in behaviour that is opposite to Christian values. And while the majority of citizens might condone mob rule justice, they are blind to the fact that they too are guilty of going against Christian values. In addition, the Christian values they are trying to hold on to is not what the capitalist media is selling to the Caribbean youth of today, through the media.

Caribbean societies’ Christian values have been compromised with the plantation culture of poverty, promiscuity and illiteracy. Therefore, in all Caribbean societies that claim to be Christianised, it is alright for a man to have children with various women and he will never experience resentment from the mainstream society. And the main reason why some Caribbean men are fathers of many children with different women, goes back to the days of slavery on the plantation when slaves were not allowed to raise a family.

During the period of slavery in the Caribbean, the slaves were not considered to be real human beings. Yet still, they were forced to be Christianised by their colonial masters, but they were not allowed to raise a family. They were considered as their master’s property and the religious leaders on the plantation colonies throughout the Caribbean were supportive of the slave system of such oppression. Today it is very common to hear that religious leaders of those churches that aided and abetted slavery are the ones talking about the lack of moral values in society, when they are the genesis of the problem.

However, the negative effects from that past plantation era still affect some Caribbean people up to this present time. Most Caribbean people’s biggest problem is that they do not read on a daily basis and because of the lack of reading and trying to analyse things, they become paranoid by new cultures introduced into society by the giant capitalist media. Therefore, the only way for Caribbean people to survive in this changing world that they do not have control over is to re-educate themselves.

Some Caribbean folks go to church on a weekly basis and, whatever they were told by the religious minister of church where they worship, they tend to believe everything without taking the extra time and effort to do further research. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why mob rule is very common in some Caribbean countries, whenever a minority of people act in certain ways that the majority of citizens are not accustomed to as part of the norms.

With globalisation and the spread of western cultures into the Caribbean, it is expected that new sub cultures will take root in society. And while the elders keep on defending the old style Caribbean values, the young people are exposed to social media that promote North American lifestyle values. Television news and entertainment influence coming from networks such as BET, CNN create a new mindset for today’s generation of Caribbean youth. Now they have access to iPods and internet cell phones and it is expected that some youths will conform to the foreign culture they see in the media.

In addition, most of the older Caribbean people might try to deny the fact that the usage and popularity of illegal drugs started in the 1960s during the hippie cultural era from the United States and, in the 1970s, the Rastafarian movement spread through the region with music and songs glorifying the smoking of marijuana.

Therefore, with a lack of information through education, some Caribbean people formalised what they think is right from wrong and the value system they created has deep roots in ghetto culture, which is not progressive even though it seems to be entertaining.

Now it is very common to see young Caribbean men trying to act as a macho-man to portray how manly they are in society; while on the other hand, they are lacking professional work skills to make a decent livelihood. However, these young Caribbean men do not realise that a man can only show he is a real macho man when he has a professional skill and a job that pays good wages. In addition, they do not recognise the fact that capitalism and a technology are more macho than they are, because within a capitalist society and a capitalist economy, new and better technology is always needed to keep capitalism functioning at the highest level.

However, the macho-man culture cannot build an economy and it will be impossible for Caribbean countries to make economic progress as long as they keep fighting against changes that have become part of the sub-cultures in western societies, because Caribbean countries still depend on western countries for economic and technical support. And it is not all sub-cultures in western societies that promote macho-man behaviour. However, due to the fact that the genesis of Caribbean societies begins with slavery and colonialism, the legacy of ignorance is still holding back progress and modern thinking.

Additionally, it is very easy to observe that most Caribbean folks do not understand that the societies they are living in are made up of sub-cultures that were imported from outside influence. For example, in some Caribbean countries, marijuana smoking has become part of the popular culture, even though it is an illegal drug according to the law. And if police officers catch users of that drug smoking it, they will be charged for breaking the law. Yet still, there is an increase in the number of people smoking marijuana but there are no functioning organisations with a plans trying to find a solution how to deal with marijuana issue, even though it is very common to hear musician artistes express their love for smoking marijuana.

However, with the lack of proper organisational skills and activism grouping among marijuana smokers, it is expected that they will continue pointing fingers at the police officers who arrest them for using the drug that they consider a holy herb. And unfortunately, they forget that the police role in society is to serve and protect the state according to the laws that govern the nation. It is very important that Caribbean people to re-educate themselves and fight for social change in a professional way. It will make no sense in trying to break the law and sometimes ignorantly making their own laws without the formation of proper political structure and planning.

But the strange thing is that is puzzling, with all the ignorance among some Caribbean people when it comes to dealing with social issues, that they are strong supporters of US President Barack Obama, who wants to bring about some social and political changes for the American people in a democratic and civil manner. However, it was very amazing to see the joy on Caribbean people faces, on the night of the US presidential election when President Obama was re-elected for a second term.

Those of us who are thinking openly and willing to accept changes in society can see clearly that Caribbean people only love President Obama because he is black. They are not paying any attention to Obama’s domestic policy for changing some things within American society. Therefore, based on how they are thinking in terms of dealing with social changes in the Caribbean, their political and social thoughts are more in line with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s conservative backward politics.

They really need to re-educate themselves.

November 21, 2012


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Latinos, Be Careful What You Wish For

Hispanic Link Service, Commentary by Arnoldo Torres

There is growing doubt today whether our political system is able to deal with the realities that confront us and significantly impact our futures. U.S. voters were uneasy with the two presidential candidates they had before them. The turnout, lower than in 2008, reflects this disconnect.

In the country where newscasts and networks speak daily about democracy and its greatness and candidates are compelled to wear a U.S. flag pin on their lapels, 93 million eligible citizens did not vote: 57.5 percent of all eligible voters turned out this month, compared with 62.3 percent in 2008 and 60.4 percent in 2004.

I have been involved in Latino politics and public policy since 1975. I have participated in, and observed, national elections since 1976. I have been through the "sleeping giant" claims about Latino political power, the so- called "Decade of the Hispanic" in the 1980s, the steady ascendance to elected office by Latinos in the 1990s, and the recognition that both political parties are committed to the attainment and maintenance of power at the expense of Latinos.

Throughout this time, the liberal and conservative media controlled and set the narrative for Latino political growth. We were talked about and analyzed but seldom were we part of that discussion on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Fox, CSPAN or MSNBC.

Now, for the very first time, I believe Latino voters have arrived at a point where we can claim political power. The role we played in the election outcomes in key swing states of Nevada, Colorado and Florida are proof that we have arrived. The facts allow me to reach that conclusion. We went out and voted probably for the lesser of two damaged products.

While our turnout efficiency was less in 2012 (78 percent) than in 2008 (84 percent), we now comprise 10 percent of the national electorate. This is consistent with the constant increase since 2004 at 8 percent and 2008 at 9 percent. Nationally, as demonstrated in these three key states, Latinos made up a growing share of voters.

We have spent better than four decades working to get to this position. Many of our political mentors have been in the Democratic and Republican parties. We have run for office on the platform that to be fair and democratic, politics needs more Latinos. Seldom have we pressed political visions of specific policies we would introduce to remedy the problems we have talked about for the last 40 years. I believe we have not prepared to get to this point. We spent entirely too much time talking about our desire to get here.

Now that we have arrived, what will we do?

Think about it. We have three Latinos in the U.S. Senate, all of Cuban heritage. One each from Florida and New Jersey and now one born in Canada representing Texas. We have 28 in the House of Representatives, a net gain of four in an institution that has little support or respect from the public. It has been phenomenally dysfunctional during times when it needed to be at its best.

Few of the newly elected Latino members have spoken yet about how they would help change these serious structural problems in Congress. Their campaigns were standard fare as campaigns go. In other words, they were not campaigns of new ideas, vision and specifics. With the exception of the Texas U.S. Senate race, most of these campaigns hit Republican incumbents hard or criticized the Republican position and philosophy. The campaigns were not about competing ideas, solutions or philosophies. The Texas race hardly addressed any of the main issues of concern to Latinos or the fact that the Republican and Democratic strategies had excluded the reality of Latinos that "one size does not fit all."

Before the ink was dry on President Obama's victory speech, the liberal left in D.C. was orchestrating Latino immigrant groups to call out the president to move on immigration now that Latinos had "elected him." This is so very disconcerting. Once again rather than initiate, we demand, we complain, we request - we react. Rather than propose our version of what should be done on the issues of the day, we demand payment.

This history-making contingency of Latino members of Congress should begin a serious and inclusive dialogue within our own large and complex Latino community on the economic issues that have historically hamstrung our future. Since we argue that the political establishment does not take such interest, our Latino politicos should demonstrate how to do it. While we are at it, we should include the issues of education, health and crime in our communities.

We should not allow Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsay Graham to lead the way on immigration reform legislation. They are not solution-driven, they are elements of appeasement! Both members are very far removed from the realities that are necessary to reach reasonable and practical solutions. We cannot afford to approach this challenge from an ideological or political angle.

It is imperative that Latinos lead this debate with ideas that solve the human suffering, dilemmas and conflicts, unintended consequences that undocumented flows from various countries to the United States cause in this nation as well as in the countries of origin. Since we have bitterly pointed out the poor leadership this issue has received from both parties, since we have long been troubled by the separation of families, abuse of workers and discriminatory treatment of immigrants, we must set the standard for approaching this complex issue and not forget that it impacts all of society in one form or another. We cannot be myopic!

We should be proud of what everyday Latinos and Latinas did this month. We all participated in a process that can lead to change. We must not lose sight of the fact that this is simply the first step followed by the responsibility to govern. The hard part is making things happen, bringing about the policies that benefit a nation, not one group. Remember the saying, "Be careful what you wish for!"

Our wish has come true and we better perform a lot better than those we have been criticizing for decades.

Sacramento-based public policy consultant Arnoldo Torres served as the national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in D.C. from 1979 to 1985. He testified more than 100 times on immigration legislation and wrote several provisions of the 1986 reform bill signed by President Ronald Reagan. He has served as an expert on Latino issues for Univisión network over the last 12 years. Reach him at

November 20, 2012


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The number of children born with the deadly HIV declined significantly in the Caribbean during the period 2009 and 2011, according to the 2012 global report by UNAIDS.
The report noted that the Caribbean, which has the second highest incidence of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa, also recorded the highest decline in AIDS-related deaths of any region between 2005 and 2011.

Read more:
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The number of children born with the deadly HIV declined significantly in the Caribbean during the period 2009 and 2011, according to the 2012 global report by UNAIDS.
The report noted that the Caribbean, which has the second highest incidence of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa, also recorded the highest decline in AIDS-related deaths of any region between 2005 and 2011.

Read more:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I want to join with all peace loving friends in the global community support the United Nations' vote ...and continue to press for the lifting of the United States of America's (USA's) embargo against the government and people of the Republic of Cuba

Cuba: Time for Washington to act

By Ian Francis

It was indeed another historic vote at the United Nations when 188 nations clearly said "it is time to end the embargo". This message was clearly directed at the United States of America, which has embarked upon a policy of embargos and isolation against the Cuban regime. I want to join with all peace loving friends in the global community to support the vote and continue to press for the lifting of USA embargo against the government and people of the Republic of Cuba.

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
Washington should recognize and accept the overwhelming vote and immediately begin the dismantling process. The embargo has gone on too long and Washington's hawkish attitude should ease and demonstrate a more conciliatory tone. At the same time, the government of Cuba also has a responsibility to find creative and innovative ways for engaging Washington to resolve all outstanding issues between the two nations.

Given that CARICOM nations supported the resolution and the growing bilateral friendship between Havana and CARICOM states, the latter has a responsibility to press Havana on changing its hard line attitude to Washington. The cold war is over and new foreign policy engagements are essential to bring about and sustain the necessary changes.

The Republic of Cuba is part of the Caribbean and this must always be understood and accepted. Manley of Jamaica, Barrow of Barbados, Burnham of Guyana and Williams of Trinidad must all be remembered and recognized for their political courage shown in establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. These leaders were strong regionalists and in spite of the enormous pressure placed on them by Washington and the United Kingdom to isolate Cuba, they did not succumb to Washington's pressure. May these leaders continue to rest in peace. Your leadership strength will always be remembered and recognized.

Since Havana's diplomatic recognition within the CARICOM region, the Republic has had its encouraging and dull moments. The bombing of a Cuban Airline of Barbados, which resulted in the death of many Cuban nationals, is a historical moment that cannot be ignored. The Estrada affair in Jamaica, which saw former Prime Minister Eddy Seaga ordering the ambassador's expulsion and pursuing a policy of isolation against Cuba.

The 1983 Grenada conflict which led to United States military intervention resulted in the humiliation, capture and deportation of many Cuban workers from Grenada who were at the time engaged in the building of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA). In addition to the humiliation by the US military, the Republic also suffered the destruction of heavy equipment, including an aircraft that was parked at Pearls Airport on the eastern side of Grenada. These dull moments never deterred Havana's commitment to the region. The Republic of Cuba remains the largest donor of foreign assistance to CARICOM nations.

Cuba has also had some enduring moments in the region. Although Bishop's assassination was seen as a great setback for Cuba and the regional revolutionary movement, the former Grenada Mitchell administration recognized the importance of Cuba and benefits to be derived in Grenada led to a state visit to Grenada by Fidel Castro and afforded him to land at the MBIA, which was started with Cuban labour and completed with United States assistance as a result of the military intervention. Grenada has benefitted significantly from Cuba in rebuilding Grenada's health infrastructure which has been destroyed by the current NDC Thomas administration.

In my view, Cuba has proven its worth to CARICOM and, while the United Nations General Assembly vote is a step in the right direction, CARICOM nations need to expand their work by jointly telling Washington that it is time to lift the embargo against Cuba. It is not too clear if our leaders are prepared to demonstrate the leadership shown by Burnham, Barrow, Williams and Manley.

So the embargo limbo continues and it is not too certain that the hawkish State Department officials are placing any importance of the overwhelming vote. It is quite possible that many of the State Department hawks are privately saying that it is just one of the annual UN rituals outside of the General Assembly talk shop.

It only shows that Cuba-United States diplomatic relations are far from resolution and the interest sections in both capitals will continue with their allegations of diplomatic misconduct by each other.

The Republic of Cuba maintains an interest section housed in the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington. The United States maintain in a similar arrangement at the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana.

November 15, 2012


Friday, November 16, 2012

AT THE UN: ...The world reiterates overwhelming opposition to U.S. blockade of Cuba

By Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver

"THERE is nothing worse than a blind man who does not want to see," is a popular expression among Cubans, and can be perfectly applied to recently reelected U.S. President Barack Obama. During his first term in office, Obama has not strayed an inch from the policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba which he inherited from successive previous administrations and is directed at destroying the Cuban Revolution.

On November 13, 1991, the UN General Assembly made the decision to include on the agenda of its next session a Cuban resolution entitled, "The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States."

Those were the times when the U.S. was opportunistically tightening its blockade of Cuba, which was struggling given the collapse of the USSR. The Torricelli Act was being implemented, limiting sales of medicine and food to the country by subsidiaries of U.S. companies established in other nations. It was this official act which exposed the notorious extraterritorial nature of the U.S. blockade.

As if this weren’t enough, in 1996, the Helms-Burton Act was approved, further extending the extraterritorial application of blockade regulations and explicitly citing the goal of "regime change" and plans for subsequent U.S. intervention in Cuba. Moreover, no one in the current U.S. administration has indicated whether the 2004 Bush plan for Cuba, intended to re-colonize the country, remains in effect.

Thus two decades have transpired and the UN General Assembly continues to condemn the genocidal White House policy, recognizing the issue as one of respect for national self-determination, international law and established trade norms, all of which are fundamental to the United Nations.

The blockade is now one of the traditional issues addressed by the General Assembly. Calls to end the policy are reiterated again and again, and while Cuba’s resolution receives overwhelming majority support, the isolation and shameful behavior of an aggressive nation is exposed. The U.S. is publicly reminded every year of the heroic resistance of the Cuban people who will not surrender our right to sovereignty.

Shortly after the announcement of Obama’s reelection, Bolivian President Evo Morales called on him to change U.S. policy toward Cuba, saying, "Thanks to the Latino vote, he is the President-elect. I would say that the least he could do would be to lift or end the economic blockade of Cuba. That’s the best thing he can do to acknowledge the votes of Latin Americans in the United States," Morales said during a speech in Potosí.

Nevertheless, with its customary arrogance and increasingly absurd arguments, Washington is totally ignoring international demands, preferring to rely on force rather than the moral strength of its policies.

In the 21st UN vote, taken on November 13, 188 nations supported the Cuban resolution, expressing a practically unanimous international opinion in opposition to a unilateral policy, the reprehensible goal of which is to force the Cuban people to surrender because of hunger and illness and not, as alleged, to promote human rights and democracy. In this vendetta, the U.S. is accompanied only by Israel and Palau, while the Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained.

The Obama administration has maintained the principal elements of the longstanding U.S. economic war on Cuba; in fact, there have been more extensive attacks on international companies which had commercial relations with Cuba or processed related financial transactions.

According to the annual report published by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), at the close of 2011, the value of Cuban funds frozen in that country amounted to $245 million.

Washington has even created obstacles to Cuba’s attempts to pay its contributions to UN organizations, supported the theft of Cuban trademarks by U.S. companies and taken reprisals against those who have chosen to do business with the country.

According to conservative estimates, the Obama administration’s anti-Cuban crusade, just this last year, has cost Cuba $3,553,602,645, 15% more than in 2010.

Over the same period, the fact that blockade regulations prohibit Cuba from using U.S. dollars in financial transactions with other countries has cost the country 57% more this year. Financial losses caused by frozen funds, the breaking of contracts and litigation have all increased.

In the tourist sector alone, damages were estimated to have been 2.3 billion dollars.

Over the course of 50 years, through 11 U.S. federal administrations, the blockade has caused enormous human suffering and extensive economic damage, reaching the astronomical figure of $1.066 trillion, considering the devaluation of the U.S. dollar as compared to gold on the international market.

In Fidel’s Reflection of April 21, 2009, entitled ‘Obama and the Blockade,’ Cuba’s historical leader wrote, "Do we have to wait many more years for him to end the blockade? He didn’t invent it, but he has made it his own, just as 10 other United States Presidents have. He can expect sure failure following this route, just like all his predecessors. This was not the dream of Martin Luther King, whose role in the struggle for human rights will increasingly illuminate the path forward for the U.S. people."

Thus Cuba stands firm, continuing its political, economic and social project, despite this uncivilized policy. The vast majority of the world’s people support the country, recognizing that it has reason and truth on its side. •
November 15, 2012
The table below shows the actual UN General Assembly vote on “the need to end the embargo against Cuba” it was cast year by year.

Year by Year Count of the UN General Assembly Vote on the Need to End the Embargo against Cuba

End It
Keep It


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

...the report on the potential for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) to drill oil in The Bahamas... and the impending referendum question on drilling for oil in The Islands

Oil Referendum Before BEST Report

By Kendea Smith
The Bahama Journal
Nassau, The Bahamas

Before the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission completes its report on the potential for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) to drill oil in The Bahamas, the government will present an oil referendum to Bahamians, according to Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett.

“That is my understanding,” the minister told the Bahama Journal recently. “It is my understanding that the matter is going to be put to referendum when it comes to drilling but they are licensed and there is an existing renewal framework, which still gives me the ability to have discussions with them regarding the terms of renewal and so those discussions are being had.”

He continued, “Clearly BPC is aware of the policy by the Government of The Bahamas is to proceed to the referendum the question of drilling. They understand that and they have been very cooperative.”

BPC has reportedly met all of its licensing requirements for oil exploration.

However, Minister Dorsett said the company still has some loose ends to tie up.

“There are issues that the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission have raised with them. The advice that I have been given is that some information that has been forthcoming – some of it not all of it,” he said.

“But we remain in dialogue with BPC in relation to its application for renewal and I think that over the next coming months those discussions will probably be more frequent. But they are in contact with the BEST Commission so I will be awaiting further advice from that body.”

Minister Dorsett said there is currently oil drilling legislation on the books.

However, he said the question is if whether or not the regulatory framework in place for oil drilling is sufficient.

“We’ve had numerous discussions with the director of legal affairs in the Attorney General’s Office regarding the regulatory framework that we hope to advance in relation to oil exploration and drilling and hopefully making some significant changes to the regulatory environment, which I think will not only provide better protection but I think enhance the regulatory generating opportunities for the country as a whole in the event it is something that the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas decide on,” he said.

BPC officials say the country can make $30 billion a year if it engages in oil drilling.

Prime Minister Perry Christie has said that an oil drilling referendum will be put to the Bahamian people next year.

13 November, 2012

Jones Bahamas

Saturday, November 10, 2012

...prostate cancer has become a major public health issue in The Bahamas ...particularly for black Bahamian males an average of two new cases are being diagnosed on a weekly basis - - - says Bahamian urologist and Director of the University of West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research ...Bahamas Campus, Dr. Robin Roberts

Local Researchers Join Global Search For Prostate Cancer Link In Blacks

The Bahama Journal
Nassau, The Bahamas

Bahamian cancer researchers are stepping up their research efforts to determine why Prostate Cancer is so much more prevalent and aggressive in black males than their Caucasian counterparts.

The heightened local research is part of ongoing regional and global search to determine the facts relative to the disease and men of African descent. It also comes amidst local findings that the disease is impacting  Black, Bahamian males at a far greater rate than their Caucasian brothers.

According to renowned Bahamian urologist and Director of the University of West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research, Bahamas Campus, Dr. Robin Roberts, prostate cancer has become a major public health issue in The Bahamas – particularly for black, Bahamian males, as an average of two new cases are being diagnosed on a weekly basis.

Statistics further show that one Bahamian male dies from prostate cancer every two weeks.

“Age-for-age, we have a disease that occurs at an earlier onset than when it occurs, is at a more advanced stage than when found in our Caucasian counterparts, and a disease that grows more quickly; spreads more quickly and is more likely to result in death for males of African descent and so there is no denying that it is of major significance for black men,” Dr. Roberts said.

“We are trying to find out why there is this difference,” Dr. Roberts continued, “one would automatically think it is because of a lack of education; because of a lack of access to healthcare, or of a lack of affordability (and) while those things may – in some instances – turn out to have some merit, by and large, when we do studies that wipe out all of those differences; when we level the playing field in terms of getting them educated, in terms of getting them the same kind of healthcare as their Caucasian counterparts, we do pick up the disease earlier, but the disease has still grown more quickly and is much more aggressive in Black men.

“So there is something about the biology of prostate cancer in black men that is different,” Dr. Roberts added.

Dr. Roberts said local researchers will also take a look at both the potential cultural and biological causes for the imbalance in order to fully understand the “complexities” involved with the disease and its impact on Black men in particular.

He said part of that cultural research will involve trying to determine why “men in our country who, although they know about prostate cancer, who know they may be at risk, still do not go and get tested.”

“So what is it that makes them take this approach. What is it in their culture that makes them act this way? Those are important areas in our research if we want to learn where those barriers are and how do we overcome them,” Dr. Roberts said.

“On the other side, if we look purely at the biology of the cancer, we are going to address what are the factors – from a research perspective – that cause the cancer to be so aggressive in Black men.

“We realise this requires a lot of high-level research and scientific expertise, and can be very expensive because we are now entering the field of genetics,” Dr. Roberts continued, “so what it says to us in developing countries is that we have to form relationships with those countries that have that level of financial assistance and the technology for us to be able to collaborate with them and share our resources and share the information.”

Dr. Roberts said the recently concluded Second Biennial Science of Global Prostate Cancer Disparities in Black Men Conference, held at the SuperClubs Breezes Resort, allowed experts, researchers and scientists from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States of America and Great Britain the opportunity to do just that.

“Male and female experts from around the globe all gathered in one place to meet and discuss and share and so this was a great opportunity for us in The Bahamas that really put us on the map with regards to prostate cancer research,” Dr. Roberts added.

07 November, 2012

Jones Bahamas

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez has appointed a task force to produce recommendations for the regulation of stem cell therapy in The Bahamas

Govt to explore stem cell therapy

Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter

Nassau, The Bahamas

Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez has appointed a task force to produce recommendations for the regulation of stem cell therapy, which was banned in The Bahamas by the Christie administration a few years ago.

Gomez said the increasingly popular and effective medical procedures, once fully implemented in The Bahamas, could enhance medical tourism.

Dr. Duane Sands, a cardiovascular surgeon and member of the task force, said The Bahamas could become a premier destination for stem cell therapy.

“We want to ultimately lead the world in the development of this new industry," said Sands at a press conference at the Ministry of Health yesterday.

"Bear in mind that the United States has had some challenges in part due to the political proclamations of George W. Bush that slowed down stem cell research.

“So there are opportunities and if it is done right, done ethically and done with real attention to the moral implications, The Bahamas and the Bahamian people can not only accrue some benefits, but we can advance medicine in the world."

Sands noted that medical tourism internationally is a huge industry. He said it accounts for as much as $70 billion per year.

"When you imagine the potential for medical tourism, the question is whether a new jurisdiction like The Bahamas can combine science with ethics and morality," he said.

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the capacity to renew themselves and to differentiate into various cell types, such as blood, muscle and nerve cells.

Under the former Christie administration, then Minister of Health Dr. Marcus Bethel halted stem cell procedures at the Immuno-Augmentative Therapy clinic in Freeport, saying it had not secured the necessary approvals to engage in such research in 2004.

Asked why the government has now decided to regulate the industry, Gomez said there is no doubt that stem cell therapy has many advantages.

"Stem cell therapy is not medicine of tomorrow; it is medicine of today. Science has moved on," he said.

Giving examples of the advantages of stem cell therapy, Gomez said an AIDS patient who received stem cell treatment lost HIV status, and an NFL player who had a neck injury that would not heal, recovered after receiving stem cell treatment.

"So for one who likes science and believes science is the basis of all good medicine, that's why we are looking at it," he added.

Gomez said many physicians in The Bahamas want to use the new technology.

Managing Director of the Cancer Centre Dr. Arthur Porter, who chairs the task force, said the government is taking the right steps.

"We feel that stem cell therapy is probably going to be the very important therapy for the next generation,” Porter said.  “And how it's handled, how research is conducted, how applications are used is going to be extremely important."

He said the task force will look at all the ramifications before any regulations are recommended.

In addition to Dr. Porter and Dr. Sands, members of the task force include Director of UWI School of Medicine Dr. Robin Roberts; Anglican hospital Chaplain Rev. Angela Palacious; obstetrician Dr. Paul Ward; Senior Anesthesiologist Dr. Barrett McCartney; Laboratory Researcher Dr. Indira Martin; President of the Medical Association of The Bahamas Dr. Wesley Francis; Medical Director of PHA Dr. Glen Beneby and attorney Michelle Pindling-Sands.

The committee is expected to deliver its report within the next 60 days.

November 08, 2012