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Clinton admits globalization policy killed Haiti rice industry
Former US President Bill Clinton has made a stunning confession. Clinton - now U.N. special envoy to Haiti publicly apologized for championing policies that destroyed Haiti's rice production. Clinton in the mid-1990s encouraged the impoverished country to dramatically cut tariffs on imported U.S. rice.
"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."
"A combination of food aid, but also cheap imports have ... resulted in a lack of investment in Haitian farming, and that has to be reversed," U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes told The Associated Press. "That's a global phenomenon, but Haiti's a prime example. I think this is where we should start."
Today Haiti depends on the outside world for nearly all of its sustenance. The most current government needs assessment - based on numbers from 2005 - is that 51 percent of the food consumed in the country is imported, including 80 percent of all rice eaten. The best-seller comes from Riceland Foods in Stuttgart, Arkansas, which sold six pounds for $3.80 last month, according to Haiti's National Food Security Coordination Unit. The same amount of Haitian rice cost $5.12.
"National rice isn't the same, it's better quality. It tastes better. But it's too expensive for people to buy," said Leonne Fedelone, a 50-year-old vendor.
Three decades ago things were different. Haiti imported only 19 percent of its food and produced enough rice to export, thanks in part to protective tariffs of 50 percent set by the father-son dictators, Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier.
When their reign ended in 1986, free-market advocates in Washington and Europe pushed Haiti to tear those market barriers down. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, freshly reinstalled to power by Clinton in 1994, was forced to cut the rice tariff to 3 percent.
Impoverished farmers unable to compete with the billions of dollars in subsidies paid by the U.S. to its growers abandoned their farms. Others turned to more environmentally destructive crops, such as beans, that are harvested quickly but hasten soil erosion and deadly floods.
Editor’s Comment: Hot Calaloo and many others have
complained bitterly that these globalization policies have been disastrous
for Caribbean and other poor countries. These policies have been forced
upon us by powerful outside developed countries. These outsiders claim to
be experts but as the late entertainer Michael Jackson sang, "They
don’t really care about us" . We have got to re-impose tariffs to
protect our local industries and immediately before any more damage is
Nurse shortage imperils healhcare in Caribbean
The export and recruitment of nurses from the Caribbean has finally created a severe health delivery problem. The World Bank has presented a report on the effect of the shortage of nurses across the English-speaking Caribbean, stating that it limits access and quality of health services and affects the region's competitiveness.
The organisation's comprehensive study, The Nurse Labour and Education Markets in the English-speaking CARICOM: Issues and Options for Reform pointed to a rapidly growing shortage of nurses in the region. It stated that:
An in-depth analysis indicated that migration is a major factor for the shortage, with more than 80 per cent of Jamaican nurses surveyed considering migration.
Jamaica's Health Minister Rudyard Spencer said the Government was addressing the shortage of the professionals by amending the Nurses and Midwives Act for some categories of nurses to be given prescriptive rights, as well as by deploying new nursing recruits and those with up to two years experience to the primary health-care system.
Are teachers next? They too have been heavily recruited overseas.
Nurses in Jamaica stage sick-out
Nurses across the Jamaica have carried out a three-day sickout. Since the previous month, the nurses have been protesting Government's delay in satisfying an Industrial Disputes Tribunal ruling that it implement a reclassification exercise. The effect has been dramatic as :
Minister of Labour and Social Security Pearnel Charles obtained a 14-day injunction from the Supreme Court of Jamaica to prevent further industrial action by the island's nurses.
Latest. Despite the original 3-day time set by the nurses, the sick-out continues even weeks after it begun.
Turks and Caicos march against UK takeover
Both political parties in the Turks and Caicos, the Progressive National Party (PNP) and the People's Democratic Movement (PDM) united in a march demanding immediate return to democracy and self- rule. The move comes on the heels of an intended enactment of a new constitution for the country by the British.
Over a year ago, Britain took back interim autonomy of the country, placing one of its governors in charge after former premier Michael Misick, who was embroiled in a huge scandal of abuse of power, was ousted from office.
Both PNP leader Galmo Williams and PDM head Douglas Parnell are accusing the British of high-handedness. "We demand a full referendum of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands before any changes to our constitution is made, for it is the only way to fully know and understand what the settled will of the people of these Turks and Caicos Islands is," stated Williams at a press conference in Providenciales.
According to his counterpart, the proposed reform has been rejected by indigenous people because it excludes them.
Both parties are calling for the removal of Governor Gordon Wetherell, who they contend does not have the support of the majority of the people. "The people of these Turks and Caicos Islands demand an immediate return to democracy and self-rule."
Persad-Bissessar appointed T&T Leader of the Opposition
Kamla Persad-Bissessar has became the first woman Leader of the
Opposition in the Trinidad and Tobago parliament, ousting former premier
Basdeo Panday from the post.
Cops quit Jamaica Police Force at alarming rate.
It is probably the toughest job in the world. Gunmen are trying to kill them. The public hates them and sees them as inefficient and corrupt. A number of bad cops have ruined their reputation. So, it is no wonder that the leadership of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is struggling to stem the tide of members quitting after going through months of training and years of invaluable experience on the streets.
Between 2004 and March 2008, the force's attrition rate jumped by almost 100 per cent. Even when recruiting efforts were successful, the police force faced a high rate of attrition. In some years more quit than were trained and inducted. In the past years, the numbers of cops that quit:
A few of the popular reasons tendered by cops for the decision to quit include migration, employment opportunities elsewhere, and police personnel returning to civilian life and going on to further studies.
In the meantime, the rate of attrition from the force is compounded by the fact that Jamaica has one of the lowest ratios of police to citizens in the Caribbean and the world. Jamaica's police force includes 8,300 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, (JCF), nearly 2,000 members of the Island Special Constabulary Force, and just more than 1,600 district constables. That is estimated at one cop to every 225 Jamaicans.
Less Than 2.5% growth predicted for T&T
According to the latest report from Companies and Markets.com, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)will experience only a moderate 2.4 percent real GDP growth recovery this year. The report`s analysts said T&T remains in a deflationary territory, having experienced three consecutive months of negative month-on-month retail price growth in the third quarter of 2009.
The third quarter saw the twin-island economy post negative year-on-year real GDP growth for the fourth successive quarter, with the contraction of 5.6 percent y-o-y marking a deterioration on the -3.0 percent and -4.7 percent growth figures posted in Q209 and Q109 respectively.
762 bauxite workers in Jamaica lose jobs
The West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco) will bring its decades-old involvement in bauxite production in Jamaica to an end when it makes its 762 permanent employees redundant on March 31. The redundancy exercise, expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, comes a year after the company suspended production at its Kirkvine, Manchester, and Ewarton, St Catherine, refineries because of reduced demand for aluminium on the world market.
Windalco, a joint venture between the Government of Jamaica and the Russian entity, UC Rusal, the world's largest producer of aluminium and alumina and which owns 93 per cent of the company, has been operating in Jamaica for more than 50 years.
The fall in demand for alumina on the world market because of the recession dealt a severe blow to the Jamaican economy, which is heavily dependent on foreign-exchange inflows from sectors such as bauxite and tourism.
Despite the redundancy exercise, the company will still be involved in agricultural activities that formed part of its original mandate. The tenant farm program would continue, so too cattle farms in St Ann and Manchester, which consist of dairy and beef stock. In addition, its third party business at Port Esquivel will also continue.
At the heights of production in 2006, UC Rusal, which also has shares in Alpart, was responsible for more than 52 per cent of the 15 million tonnes of alumina produced in Jamaica. The figure represents 23 per cent of UC Rusal's total global output.
Antigua-Barbuda seeks comprehensive, strategic energy policy
The recently established National Energy Task Force Antigua and Barbuda
has begun the process of data gathering and is also gearing up for a
series of stakeholder consultations as it fulfils its mandate of producing
a comprehensive and strategic National Sustainable Energy Policy.
Editor's Comment: This is long overdue and every CARICOM country needs to do likewise.
Rains adds to Haiti woes
Just as Haiti gets into full swing dealing with the aftermath of the
devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January, the country now has to
focus its energy and scant resources on heavy rains pounding the island.
Rains so far have demolished homeless camps and other makeshift rescue
facilities, adding to the misery of the situation, according to reports.
Jamaica courts crippled by 400,000 case backlog
Crime is running rampant. Police are overwhelmed, distrusted and insufficient and now even the court system has problems. The creaking justice system is burdened under the weight of over 400,000 cases waiting to be tried. Can you believe it? Over 400,000!
This includes the Resident Magistrate's courts, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal account for these cases, with no mention of the thousands languishing before the petty session bench. Lawyers point to criminal cases where persons remain in custody awaiting trial for more than four years. The numbers tell the worrying tale and leave the public to wonder if the local authorities know the often-repeated truism, "justice delayed is justice denied".
Absent witnesses, fear and a culture of delay are being blamed for the backlog.
The Hilary session of the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston opened on January 7, with 376 cases listed for trial. That list had 206 murder cases and 124 sexual offence cases. When the session ended on Friday, March 26, it was disclosed that 61 cases had been disposed of and 396 traversed to the next session, which starts on April 7.
That is a problem which Jamaica's first female chief justice, Zaila McCalla, appears determined to address. She has issued new strict guidelines to reduce this mind-boggling backlog. It seems like an impossible task.
Homework center springs up in Constant Spring, Ja
The Constant Spring Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica has taken an innovative way to help school children. Many poor children do not have a good learning environment or adequate resources. The church has created a special homework learning center to assist students living in Constant Spring and Cassava Piece, St Andrew. The Oasis Learning and Resource Center, equipped with computers and other learning aids, will provide after-school and homework assistance to students preparing for the Grade Six Achievement Test and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations this year.
The center is the 12th of its kind to open in East Jamaica Conference, and forms part of a thrust by the conference to open a home work center in every community, in which a church operates. "This is one of the ways in which we are going to transform our community," said Pastor Adrian Cotterell, president of the Adventist Church in east Jamaica.
Church in Jamaica provides free internet access to poor
An Internet café geared to serve residents of several low-income St Andrew communities has been launched at Church on the Rock. The Rock Internet Café, which was financed through the Government's Universal Access Fund, will be accessible to the residents of the nearby communities of Cassava Piece, Whitehall, Common and One Hundred Lane, among others.
The Universal Access Fund has facilitated the upgrade of public high schools islandwide through the e-Learning Jamaica Company, and has funded the provision of computers and associated equipment at parish and branch libraries throughout the country. The Rock Internet Café at Church on the Rock is the 16th community Internet access point to be commissioned into service, including facilities at five post offices by the Universal Access Fund.
Antigua To Borrow Over $100 Million From IMF
Antigua and Barbuda is set to take on the bitter medicine of an International Monetary Fund loan even as the country is being sued by investors of accused Ponzi schemer, R. Allen Stanford. Antiguan Finance Minister Harold Lovell confirmed that the IMF will lend the country a $124 million loan over a three year period. The minister said this means the country must reduce spending on government salaries by 20 percent by 2012 and also increase taxes and improve tax collection.
The twin-island Caribbean nation has been struggling with a budget gap since a drop in tourism and the collapse of Stanford`s Antigua-based financial empire. A civil lawsuit is currently pending against Antigua and Barbuda by angry investors of the Stanford International Bank. Stanford was the largest private sector employer on the island, but he’s in the jailhouse now awaiting a trial.
Jamaican competes in the Iditarod
"Jamaica did it again!" First it was the Jamaican Olympic bobsledders, now the Iditarod. Jamaican dogsled musher Newton Marshalltook part in the annual Iditarod sled race in Alaska. The 2010 Iditarod began on March 6 in Anchorage and ended March 21 in Nome. Marshall, who had his start at Chukka Caribbean Adventures in Ocho Rios, is the first Jamaican and Caribbean musher to compete in the Iditarod.
Each racer and his team of 12 to 16 dogs travel more than 1,150 miles
from Anchorage in south-central Alaska to Nome on the western Bering Sea
coast. His finishing time was 12 days, 4 hours, 27 minutes and 28 seconds
for 47th place out of 56 competitors.
The Jamaica Dogsled Team is sponsored by Jimmy Buffet and Margaritaville; WestJet Vacations; the Jamaica Tourist Board; Alpine Aviation, a charter company based in Whitehorse; and Chukka Caribbean Adventures.
Rangel takes leave of absence
US Democratic representative Charles Rangel, the chairman of the US House Ways and Means Committee, has temporarily surrendered his powerful post. In a brief letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rangel said he intends to remain on leave until a House ethics committee finishes its investigation. The House Ways and Means Committee writes tax legislation in the United States.
This is a big blow. Rangel has been an outstanding friend to the Caribbean. So much so that he was accorded membership in the Order of Jamaica, the fourth highest national honour, for his outstanding contribution in promoting the interests of Jamaica and the Caribbean.
"I am honoured to receive such an award, especially since it is normally presented to a Jamaican citizen. I have worked for 40 years in the Congress to be a friend of the Caribbean, and it is a good feeling to be acknowledged for this work," Rangel said in an article published on his website. He is famous for introducing a bill to set aside the bogus conviction of Marcus Garvey almost every year.
Earlier this week, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct found that Rangel knowingly violated House rules by going on two corporate junkets to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008. The so-called junkets were actually conferences in St. Maarten. Both conference was sponsored by the Carib News Foundation, a New York nonprofit affiliated with the Caribnews newspaper catering to the Caribbean community in the New York.
Prison farm in Jamaica excels growing cassava
The low-security Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St Catherine, Jamaica, is making a name for itself because of its cassava cultivation. The Minister of Agriculture Tufton and a big proponent of cassava boasted that the farm produced over J$500,000 gained from the cultivation of 15 acres of cassava. Plans are underway to expand the program and plant a further 90 acres. It was also reported that the project also helps rehabilitate the prisoners.
The cassava produced by the 20 inmates and personnel who oversee the program has been sold to Jamaica Producers, Twickenham Bammies and other businesses which use cassava extensively. Cassava is currently sold at supermarkets for J$80 per pound. It is used in the production of chips, bammies, flour and other products such as starch.
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