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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Immigration Plight of the Haitians in The Bahamas Versus the Mexicans in America


Politicole: The Real Problem That Bahamians Have With Illegal Haitian Immigrants


THE story of the Bahamian national of Haitian parentage who lost his illegal home in a legal demolition has made its way across every form of local media, perhaps most of all social media, where people have dialogued on the verge of meltdown.

As the Anson Aly threat grew more newsworthy in the Bahamas, in Canada a Canadian national shot and killed a Canadian soldier on duty and then stormed into the Canadian parliament to see who else he could take out; he was subsequently identified as a “terrorist” by the Canadian prime minister.

The terrorist’s motive was said to have been vengeance, having been a suspected militant and repeatedly denied a passport for travel to the Middle East. According to his mother, “he was mad and felt trapped so the only way out was death.”

Some Bahamians have called Aly a terrorist, which, per definition, is someone who threatens people with the intention of intimidating a society or government. Using this definition, the only real difference between the Canadian terrorist and the angry Haitian Bahamian is the fact that the latter wasn’t carrying a weapon when he made his threat.

Many Bahamians are concerned that if we take for a joke now threats of this nature, which approximate the definition of terrorist activity, who will be able to take such threats seriously or be themselves taken seriously later on? And where and when do you draw the line?

We’ve habitually allowed the little things that ail our nation to fall through the cracks, and we continue to do it, so we continue to suffer many a social ill.

On this issue, people are saying forgiveness is key. And, yes, I agree you can and should forgive. But forgiveness doesn’t exempt a wrongdoer from punishment. How many people in Fox Hill Prison are forgiven, yet they remain incarcerated?

In any other sensible, progressive country, our man Aly would have been made to incur some consequence greater than an apology for his threatening verbiage.

Only in this jokey little country can we not recognise a problem while it’s brewing. Maybe if we throw some political colours in the mix some people who need to jump would jump faster.

Many – including immigration minister Mitchell – are saying that Aly is just one person, and we should not allow one person to cause us alarm. But, to draw an analogy in the context of this subject, there was one person at the start of our problem with illegal immigrants, too. Look how that turned out.

I think the general idea amongst a large number of Bahamians is that it may be one person now, but who’s to say that the next “one person” won’t push the envelope further the next time, now that it is already clear how far threats can go unpunished and how silly we are in managing national security issues with no real demonstration of authority?

Our reality, whether you believe it, is that the one man, the one person, is representing countless others with the same mindset. And if you put Aly, or any other woman or man like him, in that situation again, or another situation like it, you’ll see where their allegiance really lies.

There is a very large group of compassionate people – of which I confess I am one – who understand the plight of immigrants to seek a better economic life in a country they think is prosperous. Hell, if the Bahamas is overrun by poor illegal immigrants or rich legal immigrants, many of us might find ourselves on a voyage to some other country we also believe to be prosperous, where we can seek a better quality of life all around.

But since Aly threatened his fellow Bahamians in a heated moment, there’s been a lot of dialogue about how unloving Bahamians are towards Haitians or people of Haitian descent. I won’t say that some Bahamians aren’t downright cruel, using “Haitian” as a derogatory word to describe someone unattractive, dark-skinned, broad-nosed, poor, colourfully dressed, with a high body odour. These are all hateful, hurtful things that would cause anyone to feel unhuman or marginalised. But this is not the real issue at hand.

The issue in this Aly incident is the specific underlying, ongoing problem Bahamians have with illegal Haitian immigrants and the inability or the refusal of our government and the Haitian government to stem the illegal influx of Haitian migrants to the Bahamas once and for all.

Minister Mitchell has been keen to point out that there is “not one international group” causing us problems with illegal immigration, but the fact of the matter is we all know where the biggest problem lies with respect to illegal immigration in the Bahamas – we can see it everywhere we turn. Yet the discussion somehow has centred on the statement that not only Haitians are a problem for us, but so are many other illegal populations.

Some have even likened the immigration plight of the Haitians in the Bahamas to the Mexicans in America. They ask why Bahamians are prejudiced against Haitians when we have other illegals to contend with. That we do. But there are a few significant differences between them, and I believe these differences are at the core of the anger and frustration that Bahamians have towards illegal Haitian migrants to the Bahamas.

Having lived in the Bahamas and America, and being exposed to both groups and their respective ways of life, I find that the problem many Bahamians have with illegal Haitian immigrants is a deep-seated frustration that goes far beyond their desire for a better life; no one wants to deny them that in principle. But illegal immigration of Haitians to the Bahamas is really a multi-pronged problem, and it is very similar in composition to the concerns US citizens have about illegal Mexican immigrants. And they are all legitimate concerns.

In my estimation, it comes down to three things, best explained by drawing comparisons to other large migrating populations, particularly of Chinese and Indian origin, as they are two of the largest in the world.

Within the Haitian and Mexican populations, there is often:

1) Violent aggression as a trademark of conflict management;

2) Low levels of education/ intellectual achievement prior to migration; and

3) Prolific reproductive lifestyles.

Firstly, by and large, as compared to the Haitian and Mexican immigrant populations, Chinese and Indian immigrants tend to have a higher degree of education before they migrate. Many have credentials for marketable skills beyond that of agricultural farmhands, and whereas the latter are necessary, the former present a diversity that is needed to build a country. Moreover, the (Indo) Asian immigrants have a better attitude about building a nation, which shows in the quality of their contribution to their host country.

They don’t continue to profess that their country of birth is better, or best, yet remain in the country they migrated to, taking everything they can, investing in nothing and repatriating their income or sharing it primarily within their own communities.

Secondly, Chinese and Indian immigrants tend not to breed by the half-dozen; not so for Haitian and Mexican immigrants. And this strikes a delicate and particular chord for me and many of my compatriots, because, in our younger years, we held off on reproducing to be responsible and to ensure that we were financially equipped to care for our children in the best way possible when we did have them, while the illegal Haitian immigrants multiplied and are still now procreating left and right with no care whatsoever for the burden it places on the Bahamian society.

Haitians and Mexicans are largely comprised of people who follow the Catholic religion, and they don’t readily subscribe to birth control. But when has “more mouths to feed” ever helped anybody’s economic situation or lifted them out of poverty? Clearly, there is something here that the Catholic church has failed to teach its followers: if you’re already in poverty, and you have little to no education to improve your opportunities, it tends to lead to greater poverty when you multiply inordinately.

Observing the growing numbers of illegal Haitian immigrants and their offspring in the Bahamas, it has become more than obvious that extreme/excessive reproduction is their way of life, and it is more likely to occur amongst the poorer Haitian and Mexican immigrant populations than the poor Chinese or Indian immigrants.

Finally, and without mincing words, Haitian and Mexican immigrants have a known culture of violent aggression, as demonstrated by the types of crimes they commit and the ways in which they commit them.

Chinese and Indian immigrants can be very pushy, maybe because they compete to survive in their very large populations, but their first idea to resolve a dispute isn’t to pop off 10 rounds on someone, beat them to a pulp, hack them to pieces, or tie them with a Colombian necktie. There’s a degree of responsibility in Chinese and Indian culture that makes them point their aggression at themselves.

I’m reminded of my Haitian neighbour who, only a few months ago, killed a baby bird on her porch with her slipper, when the little bird had only lost its way from its nest. The woman didn’t kill it because she was hungry and needed to eat it; she killed it just because it was there. And then threw it into the street.

It’s a simple, solitary incident, but it is still violent aggression for no reason whatsoever. All these isolated occurrences taken together reveal a strong tendency toward violence that lends itself to a colossal crime problem. And we have the numbers to prove it.

The reality is that extremely populated countries of the world have people who migrate to other nations in search of better lives for themselves and their children.

The countries they tend to migrate to are usually larger, developed countries, which have open job markets, the need for unskilled labourers, wide expanses of land to accommodate increases in population, and education and healthcare systems that are properly constructed and fairly well-operated and funded.

But what, of these things, do we have in our little Bahamas?

Is it not in the Bahamian interest to defend what little we do have, and insist that it be developed in a sustainable way?

To top it all off, when there is already a sizeable portion of the native Bahamian population that exhibits violent aggression, low education and high reproductivity, adding illegal immigrants of similar profiles only makes matters worse, because the Bahamian disadvantaged become even more marginalised in their own country.

But rather than impose a penalty on and make an example of the offender who threatens the little Bahamians have now, the authorities prefer to admonish the law-abiding. Their answer is for the people who are “up in arms” to “shoosh”. Be quiet. Stop talking about it. Don’t get upset. Move on.

Well, no. Because the path to being or becoming “ignorant” is to “ignore”, and to make no statement or movement with respect to the problem at hand.

And, if we don’t mind believing the genius Einstein, whose many theories about our world ring true to this day, “nothing happens until something moves.”

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October 27, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

The limits of changes – Venezuela: terminal crisis of the rentier petro-state?

by Edgardo Lander:

Venezuela’s failure to develop an effective strategy to reduce its economy’s dependence on gas and oil threatens the social successes and future viability of the Bolivarian project.

Over the 15 years of the Bolivarian government in Venezuela, significant changes have taken place in the political culture, the social and organisational fabric, and the material living conditions of previously excluded low-income groups. Through multiple social policies (known as “missions”) aimed at different sectors of the population, levels of poverty and extreme poverty have been reduced significantly.

According to ECLAC, Venezuela has become – together with Uruguay – one of the two countries with the lowest levels of inequality in Latin America. People are better fed. Effective literacy programmes have been carried out. With Cuban support, the Barrio Adentro mission has brought primary medical care to rural and urban low-income groups throughout the country.

The state pensions system has been massively expanded to include millions of older people. The increase in university enrolment has been equally extraordinary. For the last few years, a housing programme for people with low incomes has been taken forward. Unemployment has been kept at a low level and informal-sector employment has been reduced from 51% in mid-1999 to 41% in mid-2014.

The amount spent on social investment between 1999 and 2013 is estimated to total some US$650 billion. According to the UNDP, Venezuela’s Human Development Index rose from 0.662 in the year 2000 to 0.748 in 2012, taking the country’s human development ranking from medium to high.

This has been a time of dynamic grassroots organising and participation, with the setting up of Water Committees and Community Councils, Health Committees, Urban Land Committees, Communal Councils, Communes... Most of this organisational dynamism was the result of government policies expressly aimed at promoting these processes.

Equally important has been the weight of Venezuela’s experience – particularly its constitutional reform process – in the progressive shift or turn to the left that has taken place in Latin America over these years. Its influence has also been important in the setting up of various regional integration mechanisms – UNASUR, CELAC, Petrocaribe, ALBA – that have strengthened the region’s autonomy and lessened its historical dependence on the United States.

Nevertheless, the social changes that have taken place were not the result of equally profound changes in the country’s economic structure. On the contrary, the last fifteen years have seen a consolidation of the rentier state model, with an increased dependency on revenue from oil exports. Oil’s share of total export value rose from 68.7% in 1998 to 96% in the last few years. The value of non-oil exports and private sector exports has fallen in absolute terms during this time. Industry’s contribution to GDP shrank from 17% in 2000 to 13% in 2013. [1]

October 24, 2014

International Viewpoint 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

“Economic Genocide” in Latin America: The Unspoken Legacy of Wall Street and the IMF. President Cristina Fernandez

United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2014: Argentina's President Fernandez de Kirchner Denounces Economic Terrorism

By Carla Stea


Dazzling and supremely erudite, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner denounced as terrorism the economic policies that have been strangling the developing world during the past century, and are continuing these criminal actions today, the legacy of Milton Friedman’s Chicago Boys’ gangster economic policies. These policies, implemented by the infliction of “shock therapy,” institutionalizing torture, murder and disappearances of individuals, groups, and often heads of state who defy these barbaric economic models, are policies which are more accurately described as global economic theft, sanctioned by the theory that “might makes right.”

The IMF’s “conditionalities” were described, in sanitized language, as “structural adjustment programs,” demanding the obliteration of free national education and health care programs, causing the destitution of majorities of citizens in the developing countries, and resulting in the gross indebtedness of collaborating governments to parasitic interests of multinational corporations, banks, hedge funds, vulture funds and their ilk. The Milton Friedman Chicago Boys policies were described by one of Friedman’s most brilliant students, the German born economist Andre Gunder Frank, as “economic genocide.”

President Kirchner described her late husband, President Nestor Kirchner’s success in rebuilding Argentina, despite the total bankruptcy into which decades of the Chicago Boys policies had plunged a devastated Argentina. She described the earlier chaotic situation, in which Argentina had five presidents in one week during 2001, a disaster rivaled, perhaps, only by Bolivia, which, similarly hostage of the Chicago Boys, had three revolutions in one afternoon, finally resulting Bolivia’s progressive presidency of Juan Jose Torres in 1970. President Torres was overthrown, ten months later, by fascist General Hugo Banzer, with the blessing of Washington, and was then murdered in Argentina in 1975.

The earlier history of Argentina described by President Kirchner, a history common to almost all Latin America Southern Cone governments hostage to the Chicago Boys’ policy of economic genocide, is succinctly summed up by Professor John Dinges in his work “The Condor Years,” (Pages 154-155).

[By 1975], “Inside the U.S. embassy Legal Attache Robert Scherrer quickly developed information that the Torres murder was part of the new security forces cooperation among the military governments…the bloody reality of mounting repression and the assassination of three prominent figures – the Uruguayan Senators Michelini, Gutierrez and Bolivian President Torres who had sought protection in Argentina… .Slowly, among those reading the most secret intelligence traffic about Latin America – in the embassies, in the CIA, in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the State Department there was an awakening to a flow of hard evidence that was soon to become a flood: that by 1975 the government of Argentina was committing human rights violations on a massive scale never before seen in Latin America, and the six military governments of the Southern Cone were cooperating to assassinate one another’s opponents.”

This was the Argentina in which Presidents Cristina and Nestor Kirchner spent their earliest years. This was the environment in which the Chicago Boys’ murderous economic policies were forced down the throats of the majority of Argentina’s citizens, utilizing torture, murder and “disappearances” to facilitate the “privatization” of the country’s resources in the organized theft of the nation’s patrimony. This theft was engineered by one of history’s most deadly mobs of criminals, the Chicago Boys, trained by the sociopath Milton Friedman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in a decision grossly discrediting the legitimacy of the Nobel Committee.

President Kirchner described the economic and social recovery steered by her husband, President Nestor Kirchner, a program of social and economic inclusiveness which made education widely available to Argentina’s majority, which decreased unemployment while establishing social safety nets, a program in which Argentina’s economy began to thrive, as Nestor Kirchner weaned Argentina’s economy from the IMF ‘debt trap’ (the title of the superb book by economist Cheryl Payer), and made arrangements to pay off the astronomical debts amassed during the previous period of economic domination by the Chicago Boys, (debts for which Nestor Kirchner’s government was in no way responsible). President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner spoke with legitimate pride of Argentina’s success in reducing widespread poverty, despite the financial disaster engineered by the thugs of the international financial system who are currently still attempting to hold Argentina hostage.

President Kirchner voiced the concerns of the greater part of the developing world, which voted on September 9, 2014, for the United Nations General Assembly resolution: “Toward the Establishment of a Multilateral Legal Framework for Sovereign Debt Restructuring Process.” Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman (whose father, the great journalist and human rights advocate, Jacobo Timerman, had been imprisoned and tortured for two years in Argentina during that same “dirty war” of 1976 described earlier) introduced that resolution, “establishing an ethical political and legal pathway to end unbridled speculation.” The resolution was adopted, with 124 nations supporting it, eleven nations opposing it, and forty one abstentions…The scandalous profits made by parasitic “vulture funds” are funneled into campaign and lobbying to prevent change in the current viciously unjust economic architecture. The Cuban delegate stated the appalling fact that “Developing countries had paid many times the amounts originally received as loans and that devoured resources essential for development.” The distinguished American economist Joseph Stiglitz has repeatedly emphasized precisely this same fact.

President Kirchner denounced U.S. Federal Judge Thomas Griesa, whose currently strangling injunctions, prohibiting Argentina’s repayment of 92.4 percent of the debt until the “vulture funds” are paid in full, would force the return of Argentina’s economy to destitution, totally destroying the new economic and social programs which are empowering Argentina’s majority, and would quickly restore the earlier squalor of the economically colonized Argentina into which Milton Friedman’s thugs and the IMF had forced Argentina to subsist for decades of Kirchner’s earlier life.

In her masterpiece, “The Shock Doctrine,” exposing the criminal thuggery of Friedman’s Chicago Boys, Naomi Klein states:

“In the early nineties, the Argentine state sold off the riches of the country so rapidly and so completely that the project far surpassed what had taken place in Chile a decade earlier. By 1994, 90 percent of all state enterprises had been sold to private companies, including Citibank, Bank Boston, France’s Suez and Vivendi, Spain’s Repsol and Telefonica. Before making the sales, (former President) Menem and (former Finance Minister) Cavallo had generously performed a valuable service for the new owners: they had fired roughly 700,000 of their workers, according to Cavallo’s own estimates; some put the number much higher. The oil company alone lost 27,000 workers during the Menem years, An admirer of Jeffrey Sachs, Cavallo called this process “shock Therapy.” Menem had an even more brutal phrase for it: in a country still traumatized by mass torture, he called it “major surgery without anesthetic.”*

“* In January 2006, long after Cavallo and Menem were out of office, Argentines received some surprising news. It turned out that the Cavallo Plan wasn’t Cavallo’s at all, nor was it the IMF’s: Argentina’s entire early-nineties shock therapy program was written in secret by JP Morgan and Citibank, two of Argentina’s largest private creditors. In the course of a lawsuit against the Argentine government, the noted historian Alejandro Olmos Gaona uncovered a jaw-dropping 1,400 page document written by the two U.S. banks for Cavallo in which “the policies carried out by the government from ’92 on are drawn up…the privatization of utilities, the labour law reform, the privatization of the pension system. It is all laid out with great attention to detail

….Everyone believes that the economic plan pursued since 1992 was Domingo Cavallos’s creation, but that’s not the way it is.” In the long term, Cavallo’s program in its entirety would prove disastrous for Argentina.

…So many jobs were lost that well over half the country would eventually be pushed below the poverty line.”

As President Fernandez Kirchner charges, today it is obvious that U.S. Federal Judge Griesa’s ruling is an attempt to destabilize Argentina, using a new imperialist tactic devised by the current gangsters of international capitalism who thrive by devouring the lives and patrimony of the majority of citizens of the developing world, and, indeed, impose these tactics upon the “99%” percent of citizens within the countries of the developed world.

President Fernandez Kirchner explicitly denounced as economic terrorists the “vulture funds” which, supported by the United States’ judicial system, are attempting to destabilize and ultimately overthrow her government. She stated: “Not only those who place bombs are terrorists, but also those who destabilize the economy of countries, and cause hunger, misery and poverty from the sin of speculation.”

Judge Griesa is attempting, in fact, to fine Argentina $50,000 per day for not complying with his ruling, and declaring Argentina in contempt of court.” In response to his brutal arrogance, President Kirchner cited a quote from former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who described such “creditors” as immoral, preventing countries from tackling problems of education, health and poverty.

Argentina’s president spoke fiercely of such engineered poverty and destitution as creating fertile breeding ground for terrorist leaders recruiting among those who have lost all hope of lives affording them options for fulfillment and dignity, and her voice echoed, 35 years later, the speech delivered on August 27, 1980 at the United Nations Eleventh Special Session on Economic Development: “Toward a New International Economic Order”: Joaquim Chissano, then Foreign Minister of Mozambique addressed the General Assembly, decades ago, and stated:

“The existing economic order is profoundly unjust. It runs counter to the basic interests of the developing countries…we see the perpetuation of underdevelopment in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The peoples of those continents are forced to face hunger, starvation, poverty, nakedness, disease and illiteracy increasingly. We denounce any kind of economic prosperity or independence for part of mankind built on the dependence, domination and exploitation of the rest of mankind…the developing countries have warned the world about the need to take measures to eliminate the main obstacles to emancipation and progress of the peoples struggling for a proper standard of living which would meet the basic needs of life.

…During the colonial period we were branded as rebels and insurgents when we demanded the restitution of our status as human beings. When we demanded independence we tried to talk peaceably with our masters, but no one would listen. The dialogue of force was imposed upon us. We took up arms. Much blood was spilt. But only in that way were we able to win.”

Twenty-nine years later, at the 64 Session of the United Nations General Assembly, on September 24, 2008, Stjepan Mesic, President of the Republic of Croatia, and the last President of Yugoslavia stated:

“Our world is finally still dominated by an economic model which is self-evidently exhausted and has now reached a stage where it is itself generating crises, causing hardship to thousands and hundreds of thousands of people. If one attempts to save this already obsolete model at any cost, if one stubbornly defends a system based on greed and devoid of any social note worthy of mention, the result can be only one: social unrest harboring the potential to erupt into social insurgence on a global scale.”

Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, President of Argentina today raises her powerful voice in, once again, the noble call for economic and social justice. Those who are guilty of perpetuating the injustices she and so many other world leaders abhor walked out of the hall as she spoke. And those are the ones who may ultimately pay the fatal price for ignoring her warning.

October 25, 2014

The Centre for Research on Globalization

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) calls for the protection of migrants’ rights

CELAC calls for protection of migrants’ rights

QUITO.— With a call to protect the rights of migrant workers the Third Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Meeting on Migration began in the city of Azogues, southern Ecuador.

"Migrant workers can no longer be viewed solely as labor, we must ensure their rights," stated Ecuadorian deputy minister for Human Mobility, María Landázuri, at the opening of the two-day event.

According to the deputy minister, the search for safe migration facilities for citizens must involve both the governments of the origin and destination countries and the people in general.

Landázuri commented that the CELAC meeting - in which representatives from 33 member countries of the regional bloc are participating - aims to share experience and find points of agreement.

"There are more similarities than differences, and our ultimate aim is to create spaces of peace," she stated, adding that the agreements established in the meeting will be presented to the UN and CELAC leadership, reported PL.

According to the Ecuadorian minister, one of the main challenges CELAC experts will face will be developing a action plan to protect migrants and provide them with greater resources, in addition to addressing the issues of unaccompanied minors and reuniting families.

According to the agenda, they will also analyze sub-regional protection and response mechanisms, migration and development, and the advances and prospects in this area between the European Union and CELAC. (PL)

October 23, 2014

Looking for a leader in the Caribbean

By Robin Guittard:

It takes a strong leader to sit up and take notice when the tides of public opinion are turning. Often the idea of real change can be concerning to politicians. However, in Trinidad and Tobago people are crying out for their rights to be recognised, as a whole section of society suffers continued discrimination and abuse. Will the leaders listen to their calls?

Robin Guittard
A few months ago, the country’s Commission in charge of the reform of the constitution pointed out “a high level of violence and abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex (LGBTI) people” in Trinidad and Tobago

But over the last couple of weeks something has changed, there is excitement in the air. Perhaps the country is having its most mature debate since independence half a century ago. The nation is discussing what place to give to those who doesn’t identify themselves as heterosexuals, those often called LGBTI.

The ground-swell of support has been palpable, and has come as a reaction to a mis-judged statement from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Last month, during an interview in New York, she ducked and dived when she was questioned about the “decriminalization of homosexuality” in the country. She said that it isn’t something her government is seeking to do at the moment because “it’s too divided, there’s no consensus on that issue.” She then rapidly ended the discussion saying the question should be put before a national referendum.

Since then, a fierce debate has taken place. Many new voices have appeared to challenge the Prime Minister’s dismissal of her government’s obligations to protect the rights of LGBTI people.

The public debate has been bolstered by recent developments.

Recently UNAIDS, the United Nations agency in charge of the fight against HIV/AIDS, presented the results of a survey undertaken in Trinidad and Tobago.

An encouraging 78% of people interviewed said that “homosexuals should not be treated differently”, and 56% said that they themselves were tolerant towards LGBTI people.

Then, last week the country’s Equal Opportunity Commission announced that it will recommend including sexual orientation, age and HIV status in national legislation designed to protect citizens against discrimination.

Surely if the Prime Minister needs a green light to act on this issue, she has just received a strong message: the country is ready to move forward.

In fact, Kamla Persad-Bissessar herself has already shown she is open to change. In 2012 she noted that “the stigmatisation of homosexuality in Trinidad and Tobago is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law.” Amnesty International could not agree more.

However, while the prime minister can take strength from the outpouring of support and call for change, her suggestion of a referendum is not the surest way forward. If the prime minister is serious about effecting progressive change she does not need to put the question to a referendum and risk a result that reinforces discrimination. She should instead promote legislation that would ensure that Trinidad and Tobago’s laws comply with its international obligations and implement appropriate awareness raising measures to combat society’s prejudices and discriminatory practices.

Above all, protection from discrimination is an internationally-binding obligation that has been voluntarily accepted by the Trinidadian state. Over the years, UN experts have clarified that treaty provisions prohibiting discrimination implicitly proscribe discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s a responsibility which needs to be acted upon by the government, not something that’s optional.

Trinidad and Tobago has repeatedly proven to be a tolerant society. Protection from discrimination is a key component amongst its diverse communities, the foundation on which the society has been built.

It’s exactly because of this strong track-record in tolerance that the prime minister’s inaction and excuses need to be challenged. When so many people and institutions are voicing concerns that LGBTI Trinidadians are continuously facing discrimination, the Prime Minister can no longer ignore the issue.

To improve the human rights record in Trinidad and Tobago the country needs leadership. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar can be that leader and could truly make a mark on the country’s history and change the human rights environment for the better.

A national version was published on Monday in the Trinidad Express

October 24, 2014

Caribbean News Now

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wake-up My Bahamian People!

The Bahamas: A Perfect Financial Storm Brewing in Tourism Paradise


By Norman Trabulsy Jr.

The Bahamas is entering a period for which I see a Perfect Storm gathering, and this is unfortunate. A Perfect Storm comes about when a number of factors synergize to exacerbate what would otherwise be a mildly disruptive event. Although a number of other supporting realities strongly buttress my view, for the sake of brevity I will base my analysis and prediction of a Perfect Storm on the following.


Implementation of a value-added tax (VAT)

It does not take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out who owes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bahamian government in uncollected property taxes. Value-added tax is being implemented because the government has failed in its job and been unable, or unwilling, to collect even half of the taxes it is owed. The VAT is a consumer-based and regressive tax, meaning that it hits the poorest the hardest.


The estimated revenue from the VAT assumes that the economy will remain roughly at its current level. I strongly suggest that the Bahamian economy will take a very hard hit for several years due to the high cost of VAT compliance, higher prices, fraud, and the overestimate of the tax revenues to be collected, causing the government to further tighten its belt, all contributing to a dangerous shrinking of the economy. This: before the risk of any hiccup in the tourism sector, which accounts for 80 percent of The Bahamas’ gross domestic product (GDP). It is rather naive to suggest that the tourism sector is immune to rising prices, when survey after survey show that the No. 1 complaint of tourists is high prices. Sun, sea and sand have a value, but there is a limit, and we are pushing it.


Legalization and proliferation of gambling web shops

In The Bahamas, a social epidemic of gambling appears to be a symptom of the larger desperation of being unable to make a decent living and provide for one’s family by holding an average job. But more on that later. I predict that the net effect of a proliferation gambling web shops will be a continued drain on the real economy and an increasing transfer of monies into the hands of web shop owners. The health of an economy is based on the amount of money that freely circulates within it. As more money leaves the real economy via the web shops, the net result is unarguable: a rapid and decisive transfer of wealth into the pockets of those who produce nothing.


A software designer for some of the web shops told me that, for every winner, there are 8,000 losers. Ponder these odds for a moment. I live on a small family island, and I have paid attention to this matter for nearly a decade. I cannot count the times Bahamians who do not gamble have said to me, “These web shops are going to take this country down.” Perhaps they say this because, like me, they have seen the dashed hopes, the unfinished houses, the children whose lunch moneys were squandered by their parents’ spinning, and the money leaving this small island on a weekly basis that could have gone to so many worthy causes and needs. The language should be more honest: gambling is not an industry, it is a Ponzi scheme, and it should be called what it is.


Downgrading of the credit worthiness of The Bahamas by Moody’s

Moody’s recently downgraded the credit worthiness of the Bahamas due to the unlikely probability that it will reduce its 50 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. We are unlikely to do this because for the past 10 years our country has only grown by six percent, and we continue to borrow more money. Moody’s rightfully wonders where the government will find the money to pay off its increasing debt. The prospects are bleak. I liken this situation to the following conversation. A friend comes to me and says, “You owe me $500 today.” I ask, “Why is that?” He answers, “Because 50 years ago your grandfather borrowed $500 from my grandfather and he said you would pay me the $500 your grandfather owed him.” Who doesn’t think this is absurd? Yet, what do the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) do each year to the citizens of The Bahamas? How is this any less absurd than what our well-educated economists, politicians and lawyers are proposing to us today? When politicians take out these big loans, with interest, who winds up paying for them?


State of the global economy

Not enough honest people have spoken out about the implications of what the major players in the financial sector and government officials have been doing. Since the global financial crisis in 2008, the United States in particular, has pumped trillions of taxpayers dollars into the banks and financial institutions there and around the world, in an attempt to “save” the economy that was put in danger by, you guessed it, the banks and financial institutions. Soon the consequences of this policy will become yet more apparent in rising inflation, increasing inequality, and a greater impoverishment for most of humanity. Any prudent government would have, after assessing the crisis and its causes, broken up the largest of banks and nationalized those that had done the most harm to society.

IMF Photograph

The largest banks, financial institutions, and here in The Bahamas even the web shops, have completely captured our politicians and the political process. Consider the phrases: Too Big To Fail and Too Big to Jail. Justice has become lopsided and no longer applies to the rich and powerful. This is the reality today throughout the world, and it is contrary to any concept of democracy. The people of The Bahamas said “No” on the referendum regarding web shops. Yet, what did our Prime Minister do? Who do the politicians really work for? Does democracy exist in The Bahamas, or anywhere? Answer honestly. Now, what are you going to do about it?


Increasing poverty rate in The Bahamas

The realities about poverty in The Bahamas are probably worse than the government statistics suggest. For an indicator of the real state of our economy and the hurdles that must be overcome to change our course, speak to any social service worker. They will tell you that they are seeing an increasingly depressed, despondent and hopeless people who come for assistance. Yet the government is cutting back on social services to balance the budget, so that there will be even less resources to help the rising numbers of people who need them. The economic considerations are in themselves sufficient cause for concern, but it is also reasonable to expect that, as the poverty rate increases, the crime rate will increase, and public safety, the quality of life and tourism will decline.


Increasing emphasis on the “financial services industry”

The so-called financial services industry is the second largest contributor to the GDP of The Bahamas, after tourism. It is not an industry but a scheme to attract people who don’t want to pay taxes in their own countries and need a place to hide their money. The Bahamas levies no income tax, no corporate tax, no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax, and it seems that property taxes are very low and not collectable. The money to run the government comes, for the most part, from the working people of The Bahamas. The rich pay a minuscule percentage of their incomes to live in paradise: sort of like going to Disney World for free.


If the tax policies here in The Bahamas actually created an incentive for investment, an improvement in the job market, and a healthy economy, wouldn’t there be better results after all these decades of such policies? Instead, our politicians, lawyers, bankers, the financial services representatives, all of them, have become beholden to big money. Who, in their right mind, can possibly say that things here and around the world are going well and that the future looks bright for most of the world’s people? The “financial services industry” produces little to improve the lives of ordinary people. There is no reason to give the rich a free ride in this country; the benefits of living here are too great to be given away for free. I say: make them pay their fair share. The Bahamian people need to stand up and call for these changes, because not one person in the government has the guts to tell it like it is.


Aspiration to join free-trade organizations

Generally speaking, free trade in today’s world is a way for transnational companies to subvert a county’s legal system and destroy its sovereignty. The result of almost every modern free-trade agreement has been the destruction of a country’s agricultural and manufacturing base and its replacement by highly subsidized foreign corporate ownership, gutting of environmental laws and crushing of organized labor. Any complaints and lawsuits must now be handled by an extra-judicial group of corporate lawyers with loyalties to big business. This idea of The Bahamas joining these free-trade agreements will only further the interests of those businessmen, lawyers and politicians who are pushing them. They will not help the tourist economy or manufacturing economy of The Bahamas or create more and better jobs for Bahamians. These issues must be known to the Bahamian people before our politicians sell this country out from under our feet.


Lack of leadership

Anyone old enough to remember, or who has gone to YouTube to hear, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. understands that we have no statesmen in this world today. Do not be duped by the words of the first African-American US President. He is not even worthy to stand in the shadows of MLK Jr. Listen to the words of our own politicians in The Bahamas: mere words, poisonous words, for they are meant to trick us into believing that they have our interests in mind. Nowhere in the world is there a leader with the integrity, honesty, courage and fortitude required to govern. Each and every one is beholden to the moneyed interests in the world today. I have heard the expression, “We get the government we deserve.” If this is true, I am saddened by where we are as a people. If we can rise up, and create a better society, it is time to do so. Let us get rid of the charlatans, the spineless, the greedy, the dishonest and egotistical excuses for public servants that we now have. This isn’t about one political party or another. Wake up people! I believe we are staring a Perfect Storm in the face. It is up to us to do something for ourselves to avoid the impending crisis.


Editor’s Notes: Norman Trabulsy Jr. is an expecting father, restauranteur, sailor, captain, carpenter and naturalist living in The Bahamas. His writing generally focuses on environmental issues concerning tropical marine ecosystems and economics.

Photographs one, four and nine by Thomas Hawk; two, five and fourteen by Albyan Toniazzi; three and ten by Susan; seven and thirteen by Bruce Tuten; eleven and twelve by Shutter Runner; six by Jordon Cooper, and eight from the IMF archives.

Oct 13, 2014

News Junkie Post

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola and The Bahamas: Proper Planning will Prevent Panic - says the Democratic National Alliance (DNA)

Christopher Mortimer Amid rising concern regarding the Ebola health crisis, Government officials from around the globe are taking the necessary action to prepare their respective countries for a potential outbreak and protect their citizens. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of this Christie led administration. The Government of the Bahamas has taken too lax an approach to the handling of this disease which is now at our back door; and as with countless other national issues, our leaders have shown themselves ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.

The Democratic National Alliance, more than two weeks ago, called for the Ministry of Health, helmed by Dr. Perry Gomez, to begin a widespread education campaign on the effects of the disease and outline specifically, the government’s plans to prevent a possible outbreak. According to the Minister, the government has created what officials claim is a dynamic preparedness plan to protect the citizenry, a plan based on meetings with stakeholders from various sectors of government and private sector. For this, the DNA commends the Minister of Health for at least taking these very minimal steps, however MORE IS NEEDED.

Instead of providing clarity on the way forward, the Minister has left even more unanswered questions. His most recent update statement on the Ebola virus and its implications, was yet another wasted opportunity for the government who, instead of providing details of its plan and when implementation of said plan would occur, he simply regurgitated facts about the disease which could be acquired by a simple Google search. What we need are SPECIFICS! What we need are FACTS! What we need is ACCESS to the government’s plan!

The government’s failure to release that plan to the public is cause for concern and raises a number of Questions. For example, has the government identified secure isolation centers to house the potentially infected and If so, WHERE? This is of particular importance as many public healthcare clinics and facilities exist within the heart of residential communities which could spell disaster if exposure occurs. What are the protocols in the event of a confirmed case? Have healthcare professional been properly briefed regarding those protocols?

In a statement to the media last week the Chief Medical Officer revealed an even more frightening reality when he asserted there was only 3 days’ worth of medical supply to treat an infected individual, even though experts suggest that an infected patient can live up to 8 days after becoming symptomatic; coupled with the recent “loss” of millions of dollars in prescription medication from the Princess Margaret Hospital is even MORE ALARMING!

As the deadly virus continues to overwhelm isolation centers and public healthcare systems worldwide, scores of countries around the globe and even within this region have already implemented increased screening processes and travel bans to protect their borders; particularly as it relates to persons traveling from locales severely affected by the disease. Here in the Bahamas however, such options are only now being CONSIDERED by government officials locally even though thousands of visitors from around the world enter our borders by air and sea daily. For decades, our country’s porous borders have posed serious challenges in terms of immigration, drug and weapons smuggling and even human smuggling. Now, the threat of this lethal disease threatens to further aggravate an already contentious problem. Rather than take the proactive approach like our regional counterparts, this government seems comfortable relying on foreign nations to perform Ebola screenings.

According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, the recent Ebola outbreak, categorized as the worst in the world’s history, has killed over four thousand, five hundred people with the number of new infections to grow exponentially by the end of the year. The disease, which has an incubation period of 2 to 21 days, means that an infected individual traveling through Europe or the United States may successfully pass through screenings in those countries only to become symptomatic and contagious once reaching our borders. Since January 2014 to September 2014, the Bahamas has had at least 66 persons who have traveled from West Africa to the Bahamas. Those figures alone reinforce the absolute need for enhanced screening and public education.

Enhanced screening protocols must ensure that travelers from affected countries be questioned at the border by a health care professional stationed there to determine the potential risk. Travelers must also be subject to physical screenings such as having their temperature taken – with an Infrared Thermometer to limit physical contact – and observation for other Symptoms of Ebola. Information packets containing facts about the disease and its symptoms should also be provided at the border so that travelers themselves are vigilant about their own health status.

These additional screenings are a layered approach and must be used with other public health measures to ensure that every precaution is being taken.

While it is important to refrain from inciting panic over the potential impact of the disease on the Bahamas, it is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT to educate the citizenry. In the absence of actual FACT and INFORMATION, only fear, uncertainty and misinformation remain. The government MUST not treat this issue as it has treated countless others. Shrouding their plans in secrecy will not keep Bahamians safe. ONLY ACTION WILL!

Christopher Mortimer
Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Deputy Leader

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Paralysed Venezuela vs Thriving Bolivia: Two Faces of Socialism

By Hernán Luis Torres Núñez –

Hernán Luis Torres Núñez, a frequent economics commentator on leftist Venezuelan community forum Aporrea, argues that Venezuela should learn from Bolivian president Evo Morales’ pragmatic style of governance for “21st century socialism”. 

A few days ago a friend asked me if I’d written about the situation in the country again. I answered no, because the government hadn’t taken any action on the economy that served as an excuse for me to write something. The only thing that’s happened worth mentioning is the assassination of Robert Serra, which is in an area of events that isn’t my strength. Also I don’t like speculating about this type of issue, above all because the investigations haven’t finished solving the crime.

However it should be pointed out that not making decisions is a way of deciding. That is, maintaining the status quo is a way of signalling that although the situation is very difficult, making decisions can worsen the situation. This reminds me of the second government of [Rafael] Caldera [1994 - 1999]. When he was elected he put the economy in the freezer and let time pass. Caldera was clear that the economic adjustment measures of [former president] Carlos Andres Perez [1989 - 1993] had cost him his job. [Caldera] finally implemented these measures two years into his term, when the political atmosphere had calmed down.

These are very difficult times for the Venezuelan economy. We can’t exaggerate when we see indices of inflation and shortages of all kinds of products (because we no longer see the shortages indicator); when we see that dollars [for imports] are sporadically shared out to different economic sectors at a drip drop; when we see that oil is dropping to 80 dollars a barrel; when we have three official exchange rates to the dollar, each one overvaluing the bolivar and generating deep distortions in the economy; when we see that property prices reach 50 million bolivars (US $7.9 million at highest official rate); when the prices of used cars are crazy, etc. Therefore we can speculate that no economic decisions are being taken to stabilise the situation because these would have a very strong impact on Venezuelans’ quality of life. A strong devaluation toward one exchange rate, a generalised increase in prices (which has been happening surreptitiously), a petrol price increase, and a possible tax rise would make poverty rates violently shoot up. This situation would put the government against the wall, as its banner all these years has been the eradication of poverty. The goal of zero poverty would be smashed to smithereens.

On the other hand, it’s important to point out that politicians pursue power, and once obtained, they try to keep it for the longest time possible. Good economic performance is something that can favour the politicians in government, and bad management sooner or later ends up taking its toll and hastening the fall of the governors, above all if we live in an effective democracy. By virtue of what’s happening in the economy and with parliamentary elections next year, the fear of losing political power is a close possibility. As such, in these moments political calculation can impose itself over economic reality.

Meanwhile, Evo Morales has just won his third term in Bolivia, and overwhelmingly. Bolivia is experiencing economic growth, and in 2015 is expected to be the country that grows most in the region. There is a construction boom in La Paz, with new shopping malls full of foreign brands. In Bolivia there are no currency controls, and yet, international reserves reach 48% of GDP. It appears that there hasn’t been capital flight, and rather Bolivia is today a very attractive site for foreign investment. An important reduction in poverty has also occurred.

The opposition to Morales’ government, that at one point backed the division of the country, has softened its posture. Apparently Evo Morales has been capable of gaining the support of the middle class and some business. The conflict of his first years in government has given way to social, political and economic stability.

All of this drives us to think about what the key to success in Bolivia is, a country with far less resources than Venezuela but that has been capable of establishing a successful popular government, very different from the Venezuelan case. It’s necessary in the field of Venezuelan socialism that the Bolivian case is studied and the necessary lessons taken.

I’ve often heard the argument that other countries don’t have anti-patriotic parasitic bourgeoisies, a reasoning that seems contradictory and a little naïve, because in some way it’s saying that the success of socialism depends on the kindness and patriotism of the bourgeoisie, which is nonsense. The industrial bourgeoisie in all countries behaves in the same way, it invests to profit, and if it can’t profit it moves its capital somewhere else. We can’t forget that there was a moment that the Bolivian bourgeoisie and its half moon movement wanted to remove Morales from power the underhand way. If today the Bolivian bourgeoisie is investing and not encouraging capital flight it’s because it trusts that its investment will be respected and will perform well. All of this has occurred due to negotiation between the Bolivian bourgeoisie and Evo’s government.

The above is notable because Evo Morales has declared himself a Marxist and admirer of Fidel [Castro], however, it would appear that he is also a pragmatic man who understands that socialism of the 21st century has to be radically different than that of the 20th, something that the person who was our economic flag bearer, [former minister Jorge] Giordani, could never understand and less so put into practice. Strong applause for Evo Morales.

October 14, 2014

Translated by

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ebola in the Caribbean and Latin America - a matter of when?

Ebola: Will LatAm succumb?

Christian Molinari

International news has been abuzz with the Ebola outbreak, its haunting effects on victims in West Africa and its spread into Europe and the US. So far, the epidemic has not been confirmed in Latin America, although Brazil's health ministry reported its first suspected case.

Following the death from the virus of a Liberian man in a Dallas hospital on October 8, the US government expanded airport examinations. (The screening consists of questions about a passenger's history and a fever check, which passengers can beat by taking medicine to bring down their temperature.) Previously, a nursing assistant became infected in Spain, the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa.

Marine Corps general John F. Kelly, the commander of US Southern Command – responsible for US military activities in Latin America and the Caribbean – admitted last month that the issue keeps him awake at night. According to Kelly, Latin America is the backdoor through which many West Africans, part of a human trafficking chain, illegally enter the US.

And if Ebola were to take hold in the Caribbean or Central America, the streaming of immigrants into the US trying to get proper medical care would be unstoppable, he said.

The numbers are frightening – with up to 1.4mn possible infections worldwide by early 2015, according to estimates, and half of the victims dying. The World Bank forecasts billions of dollars in economic losses in West Africa alone if the epidemic lasts and continues to spread. It's being called the worst calamity since the outbreak of AIDS.

In short, it's a matter of when and not if the disease will make it to Latin America.

As the 40mn-strong online activist organization Avaaz points out, the core of the epidemic boils down to a health issue, with just 0.01 doctors for every 1,000 people in Liberia. "There just aren't enough medical staff to stem the epidemic," it says, calling for international medical volunteers to help meet needs.

For Latin America, the overall sense is that while Ebola is sure to arrive sooner or later, it will not turn into an epidemic. According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), many Latin American countries have more than one doctor per 1,000 citizens. Even the region's poorest country, Haiti, has 0.3 doctors per 1,000 – not a great figure, but still 30 times higher than in Liberia. The statistic goes all the way up to 6.7 for Cuba.

And a number of countries in the region are fairly well prepared to address the virus – Argentina (3.2 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants), Chile (1.0) and Brazil (1.9) are tightening security at airports.

Argentina, on epidemic alert, has already designated a number of hospitals in urban areas as 'Ebola-only' quarantine centers if cases are detected in the country. Chile, in turn, while saying it is on the WHO's list of the countries least likely to be affected, has assured that it is implementing contingency plans to be able to respond to the situation should it come up.

And Brazil has for years cooperated and shared information with Hamburg-based Bernhard Nocht Institute (BNI) for Tropical Medicine. According to Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, BNI's virology department director, Brazil is actually very well prepared thanks to past work the institute has carried out in conjunction with local authorities regarding dengue-based viral hemorrhagic fevers. That has allowed the University of Rio de Janeiro to have a virus diagnostic center to perform tests and detect Ebola relatively quickly. Additionally, the health ministry said that 37 hospitals in 25 states are in condition to receive patients infected with the virus.

The Ebola virus – believed to be naturally hosted by fruit bats – is not endemic to Latin America, which in and of itself is an impediment to its propagation, Schmidt-Chanasit said, according to German publication DW.

In summary, Ebola will arrive in Latin America, if it hasn't already. But with proper precautions and controls, it will not have the effect seen in West Africa, and cases will be limited. Keep calm – mass hysteria and panic have never helped in any situation.

October 10, 2014

BN Americas

Thursday, October 9, 2014

National Money Laundering Risk Assessment - The Bahamas

AG: “Zero Tolerance On Money Laundering”

By JonesBahamas:

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Allyson Maynard-Gibson yesterday reiterated the government’s zero-tolerance position on money laundering as she opened a two-day workshop to address the risks associated with this practice.

With the growing recognition that illegally earned funds are being concealed more and more throughout the Bahamas, officials met to continue the first of three phases of the National Money Laundering Risk Assessment at the Melia Resort early yesterday morning.

“My presence here this morning indicates the commitment of the government to Financial Services and doing all that it takes to correct the ease of doing business ratings – it’s very very low…lower than we ought to have,” the attorney general said.

Bahamas Anti-Money Laundering Coordinator, Stephen Thompson, said the sole purpose of the National Risk Assessment is to identify money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the Bahamas. The two day workshop facilitated by the World Bank will consist of training on exactly how to identify the risks.

“This is a workshop where once we would have determined the money laundering terrorists and financing risks, we will determine how we go about putting mechanisms in place to strengthen what already exists or put in place mechanisms to identify areas that are not currently regulated. We will move in that direction” said Thompson.

Mr. Thompson told reporters that all financial services legislations will be reviewed for the assessment to determine the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the Bahamas.

“What we do is we look at what is called Typologies, Money Laundering Typologies. These would be the means by which people have laundered money in the past” said Mr. Thompson, “Those will be the areas, obviously, that we will focus on. In addition to that, we will look at any other areas of vulnerabilities. Meaning, any area that is susceptible to criminal activity, obviously, cash intensive businesses will be very critical for us to look at. Any area that we know from a global perspective poses as a risk for money laundering.”

Attorney General Alyson Maynard was also present at the assessment this morning. She said As the risk assessment continues, Mr. Thompson and his team hope to find any area that is vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing within the country.

October 09, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church? Part-2

Should homosexuals influence Caribbean society more than the church community? Part 2

By Dr Lazarus Castang:

Continuing from part 1, where the question was left unanswered, I propose, from numerous perspectives, an answer to the question: Should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church?

Dr. Lazarus Castang
On the question of majority rule, for the maintenance of social order there must be some sort of political, or military, or numerical majority. Numerically, there are far more professed Christians than homosexuals in the Caribbean society. Heterosexuals are a sexual majority and LGBTs are a sexual minority. A vote for the repeal or retention of Caribbean sodomy laws may result in its retention because of social, cultural and religious norms that do not favour men having sex with men (MSM). So, purely on the basis of a numerical majority rule as to whether homosexuals should influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church, the verdict is on the side of the Caribbean church.

“Should” brings the question of morality into play, while “can” puts the question of ability on the screen. Homosexuals can influence Caribbean public policy through political pressures and funding agencies. But it may still be an uphill battle to overthrow the will of the numerical majority to legislate what homosexuals do as legitimate, normal or normative.

The question of the tyranny of the majority over the minority misses the important distinction between parallel rights and conflicting rights. Where there is a conflict of rights in society, one right will be made fundamental and the other less than fundamental. In the Caribbean, there is a right to conscience (religious liberty), but there is no right to homosex. If the distinction between parallel rights and conflicting rights is not kept in mind, then it can be indiscriminately argued that Caribbean legislations and religious norms create tyranny of the majority over a minority with crimes of drug addiction, incest, pedophilia, homosexuality, and bestiality.

On the question of a sexual orientation rule, homosexuals may be born with tendencies to homosex, and early in life feel attracted to the same sex. It is an injustice of tremendous proportion to discriminate or legislate against homosexual orientation over which homosexuals have no choice. Moreover, how will evidence of orientation be reliably culled where there is no external evidence of homosexual practice? Therefore, a clear distinction must be maintained between homosexual orientation and the behavioural expression of it. In like manner, a clear distinction must be maintained between pedophilic orientation and the behavioural expression of it.

Legal and moral consistency requires parity of treatment for homosexual and pedosexual behaviour. So, the verdict on the possession of the greater moral influence in the right-to-sex debate belongs to the Caribbean church. Analogies between homosexual behaviour and slavery or women issues are not the best analogies. Sexual analogies like incest, pedophilia, bestiality, prostitution, adultery, polygamy, polyamory, and male polysexuality are the best analogies.

On the question of morality rule, the argument that a “right” to sexual orientation is an automatic right to any sexual behaviour on a sexual continuum is fallacious. Many men have a polysexual orientation, so is it an automatic right for them to sleep with as many consensual adult sex partners in order to be true to their polysexual orientation/identity? Married women will not agree to this, nor will loving, committed gay partners agree to it.

What is considered “normal” is not automatically moral and there is no natural right to homosexual behaviour to make it a fundamental right. Those who call homosexual behaviour a universal human right have not made the case for the rightness, or universality, or humanity of homosex. So, the verdict on the possession of the greater moral influence in the right-to-sex debate belongs to the Caribbean church.
Morality should not be disregarded even if it is alleged or made to stand in the way of economic growth. In fact, widespread economic growth itself presupposes a reduction or stifling of political and moral corruption in society.

On the question of harmful rule, if homosexual behaviour is a victimless crime, then incest and bestiality are victimless crimes that should be decriminalised, legalised and protected. Furthermore, since there is no scientific research showing that pedophilia causes measurable harm to all children in all cases, then, pedophilia should be legislated against on a case by case basis. Harmful rule and victimless crime have been used to give a pass to prostitution. Interestingly, homosexual behaviour is against the natural use of women and against the perpetuity of the human race. Therefore, it is sexist and against our humanity. So, the verdict on the possession of the greater moral influence in the right-to-sex debate belongs to the Caribbean church.

On the question of freedom, social inclusion, tolerance, equality and acceptance rules, these are so-called morally neutral issues that attempt to evade any talk of the morality of homosexual behaviour. We cannot have a society that declares a sexual matter a right by sheer ideological fiat. Nor can we have a society that physically abuses and professionally, or medically, or socially discriminates against homosexual persons because they come out or covertly engage in private, consensual adult homosex.

Above all, we cannot have a society that is morally all-embracing from incest to prostitution to homosexuality to pedophilia to bestiality. How far do we extend the principle of right to sex if sexual satisfaction is a right? A moral society must draw the line. Homosexuals draw the line to include homosex as personally acceptable. The church draws the line to exclude homosex as morally unacceptable but to tolerate homosex, like adultery, fornication, male polysexuality as social immoralities beckoning sincere repentance of heart and reformation of behaviour.

The Caribbean church will not support the legal protection of homosex that criminalises Christianity’s moral stance against homosex. Homosexuality is not a moral equivalent of heterosexuality. The opposite of both homosexuality and heterosexuality is moral purity. So, the verdict on the possession of the greater moral influence in the right-to-sex debate belongs to the Caribbean church.

On the question of privacy, consensuality, male-adult, ownership-of-one’s-body, and right-to-choose rule, it works on the individual level with a purely private matter, but is inadequate a rule on the public level. Gay lobby, gay parades, the homosexual movement/community, promotion of gay lifestyle as a normal variant of human sexuality and gays coming out are public, not private matters.

This rule gives free reign to any adult sexual behaviour that crosses gender, species, or blood-relatedness boundaries. It accommodates abortion, prostitution, incest, male polysexual behaviours, bestiality, polygamy, and polyamory. Therefore, such rule is virtually worthless being exclusive only of children and cognitively disabled individuals, but accepting of all other sexual behaviours, whether harmful or not. So, the verdict on the possession of the greater moral influence in the right-to-sex debate belongs to the Caribbean church.

October 02, 2014


- Should homosexuals influence Caribbean society on the right to sex more than the Caribbean church?  Part-1 

What now for Scotland?

• The United Kingdom will need to reform its relationship with the Scots following the political unrest that led to the referendum

Linet Perera Negrin

Scotland will not become an independent country because that is what the majority wanted. However, the United Kingdom will need to reform its relationship with the Scots following the political unrest that led to the referendum, analysts have claimed.

Better Together - No Thanks
"Better Together" the No campaign slogan. Photo: La Nación

The "No" vote won in Scotland. After 307 years of union and following polls suggesting victory for Scottish sovereignty, in the end 55.3% of the electorate decided to continue as part of the United Kingdom.

With a lead of 10%, those in favor of the union won with 55.3% against 44% in favor of independence. 1,914,000 of those who went to the polls voted "No", while 1,539,000 supported the "Yes" vote.

Although the British government is celebrating the victory, Edinburgh awaits the concessions promised, should the "No" campaign win.

Whilst the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s request for more tax-raising powers was denied by the central government in 2012, this will now have to be taken into account in the process which is already underway, according to a pledge signed by the three main political parties.

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Labour opposition all promised greater powers, resources and more autonomy for Scotland, which will impact not only in other parts of Britain, but throughout Europe.

In response to the results of the referendum, British Prime Minister David Cameron promised that Scotland will have increased rights as part of the promises made by his government on the eve of the vote.

Cameron said that implementation of the promises set out in terms of taxation, spending and social welfare will advance over the coming months.

He also pledged to push reforms for the rest of the UK and stated that he had instructed William Hague, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to draw up plans for decentralization. The changes will be reflected in bills that should be ready by January 2015.

The British Prime Minister also referred to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and said the population of these territories should have more say in their internal affairs.

If local authorities are given more powers, the Scots will have more autonomy in regards to tax collection, expenditure budgets and social services.

Similarly, during the campaign leading up to the referendum, Cameron promised to maintain the so-called Barnett Formula of distribution for Scotland, a system of distribution of public spending designed by the former Minister of Economy, Joel Barnett, in the 1970s.

Scots will therefore continue under this formula which, even with a smaller population, ensures they receive sufficient resources to run their public services, granting funds per capita 19% higher than in England.

Another controversial topic was the British National Health Service or NHS.

Supporters of independence assured that only separation would protect the health service from the cuts imposed by London. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties included a categorical promise that the last word on the money spent in the National Health Service in Scotland would be for the Scottish Parliament.

On the other hand, by preserving the union, London maintains its benefits in terms of the oil and natural gas reserves in the North Sea and other natural resources on the Scottish mainland.

Similarly, the British government will continue to recive taxes from the production of whiskey, wool, silk and fishing from the rich Scottish waters. In addition, the British military bases remain in Scotland.

Another detail is that the Royal Bank of Scotland, like other financial institutions that had announced plans to move their headquarters to England in case of a separatist victory, announced that it would not be making any changes to its structure.

In this context, and after learning the results, the price of the pound rose on the Foreign Echange Market.

In the political sphere, Scottish Minister Alexander Salmond, the main champion for independence, announced his resignation after the defeat.

October 03, 2014