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CONTENTS
bulletNew Secretary General for CARICOM
bulletFreedom of movement begins in OECS
bulletJamaica bans scrap metal export
bulletBahamas bans scrap metal too
bulletSugar shortage hits Jamaica
bulletCaribbean Airlines plane crashes in Guyana
bulletRedjet takes to the Caribbean skies
bulletCaribbean people worried about crime -UN survey
bulletJamaicans owe 3 courts a whopping J$28 million
bulletInequality and poverty in Latin America
bulletSt. Lucia mourns the passing of Amy Winehouse
bulletJamaicans get creative with 'scandal bags'
bulletJamaica cause hold-up of millions in EU aid
bulletThe role of remittances in Latin America and the Caribbean

UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:

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Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 15, "The Audacity of Hopelessness"

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Hot Calaloo's Undiluted Vol. 14, "Cuba's Benevolence versus US Belligerence"

 
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by Michael I Phillips

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
Special Clearance
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Not just a book but an invitation to join the Goodwill Revolution against an unfair, unjust and deceptive system that keeps the world poor and without hope. Find out how you can join, quit the rat race, and achieve a happier more meaningful life for yourself and others through goodwill to all.  
For more book info see
     goodwillie.org

Buy through Paypal or  send check for $5 + $3 (shipping) to 
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cover River Woman by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
  The Rio Minho in Jamaica provides much more than a setting for this potent, accomplished debut by Jamaican-born Donna Hemans.

---------------

cover  For the Life of Laetitia by Trinidad -born Merle Hodge  Price: $10.54
a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.

 

 

August 2011

New Secretary General for CARICOM

Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has been selected to serve as the seventh Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by the Heads of Government. Ambassador LaRocque, 56, a national of Dominica replaces His Excellency Sir Edwin Carrington of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ambassador LaRocque is the current Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration at the CARICOM Secretariat, having served in that post since September 2005.

Ambassador LaRocque was educated at Queen's College, and the New School for Social Research, both in New York and New York University, majored in Political Philosophy, Political Economics and Economics respectively.

Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary-General, he served as Permanent Secretary in various Ministries in Dominica for more than fourteen years, including in the Ministries of Trade, Industry, Enterprise Development, Tourism, and Foreign Affairs, where he headed the diplomatic service. He also served as the principal advisor to the Government of Dominica on all matters pertaining to economic integration and regional and international trade.

He was Dominica's senior policy adviser on the revision of the original Treaty of Chaguaramas and served on the CARICOM Inter-Governmental Task Force which drafted the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

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Freedom of movement begins in OECS

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean states (OECS) is showing CARICOM the way. Member states, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines agreed that, from August 1 2011, they would permit OECS citizens to enter their territories and remain for an indefinite period in order to work, establish businesses, provide services or reside.
Free movement of OECS citizens is one of the fundamental aspects of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union, which entered into force on January 21, 2011. On that date the OECS Authority of Heads of Government agreed that August 1, 2011 would be the implementation date for the regime for the complete free movement of citizens of participating member states.

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Jamaica bans scrap metal export

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Christopher Tufton has institutedng a temporary ban on the export of scrap metal.

"All exporters with inventories on hand must collect their containers from the ports by the latest Friday, July 22, 2011. These must be packed and returned to the port by July 29. Thereafter, no new scrap metal will be accepted at the port," the ban stated.

So why and whatís so important about this? Because Jamaica was being scrapped piece by piece. All over the island thieves have been dismantling working vital systems to sell for scrap.

The National Water Commission (NWC) has reportedly lost more than $36 million in direct theft related to the scrap-metal industry. However, this does not include just the regular theft of manhole covers and frames throughout the sewage districts and single/short lengths of pipes rampantly stolen from our water distribution systems in almost all parishes. Additionally, the costs indicated in most instances are merely estimates of the replacement cost and do not include costs for loss of revenue, customer inconvenience, increased trucking costs, and damage to the image of the enterprise," added the commission. So in reality, the real full cost that it has faced because of the scrap-metal theft could be between $144 million and $196 million.

It is a similar story for telecommunications company LIME, which says the repeated theft of copper telephone cables has cost it more than $32 million while severely inconveniencing its landline and Internet customers. Several other major entities, including the National Works Agency, sugar factories, parish councils and private businesses have also reportedly suffered million-dollar losses because of the scrap-metal thieves.

Private individuals, it is understood, have also suffered losses as the thieves have made off with any metal they can find. Even a historical cannon was stolen.

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Bahamas bans scrap metal too

The Bahamas has banned the export of scrap metal for at least three months as copper theft cases continue to increase. The government said in a recent statement  that the theft is so widespread it has disrupted services at major industries. About $35,000 worth of copper wire was recently stolen from the state power company, and another $12,000 in wire was taken from the island's telecommunications company. Last year, thieves stole copper wire from the Bahamas' Broadcast Corporation and temporarily shut down its radio transmission.

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Sugar shortage hits Jamaica

Unbelievably, Jamaica despite being a major producer of sugar is facing a sugar shortage. The Government says the shortage of sugar has come about because Jamaica has been forced to export approximately 70 per cent of its produce under a previous arrangement.

Wholesale grocers in downtown Kingston and all the way across the island in Montego Bay have revealed that many of the wholesale stores in that commercial district have been woefully short on sugar.

Sugar is now "married". This means that in order to buy sugar in many places, the shopper has to buy a minimum amount of other products. For example, in Mobay some shoppers claim that they have to purchase in excess of $1,000 worth of groceries before they can take home two pounds of sugar.

According to government sources. it is estimated that the local sugar-cane industry will produce between 135 to 140,000 tons this year. With local consumption at about 60,000 tons, there is a shortfall of about 20,000.

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Caribbean Airlines plane crashes in Guyana

A brand new Caribbean Airlines plane crashed in Guyana en route from Trinidad. The plane was landing at the Cheddi Jagan Airport when it touched down on the rainy runway, slid through a chain-link fence and broke apart just short of a ravine. Miraculously, out of the 151 passengers plus six crew members, there was no fatalities and only two serious injuries. The plane originated in New York with a stop in Trinidad. Officials have not revealed what caused the crash, but the US National Transportation Safety Board and Guyanese Civil Aviation Authorities will be investigating it.

The accident which occurred at around 1:32 a.m. affected all flights coming into Guyana for a few hours, before normalcy was restored. The Cheddi Jagan International Airport is the country's only international airport.

Caribbean Airlines is the national airline of Trinidad and Tobago. The airline is also flag carrier to Jamaica through its subsidiary Air Jamaica.

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Redjet takes to the Caribbean skies

The Caribbean has a new airlines. It is Redjet. REDjet (Airone Caribbean/Airone Ventures Limited) is a at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Christ Church, Barbados, near Bridgetown. The privately-owned airline is incorporated in St. Lucia. Initially the airline sought to startup operations from Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport, however, the airline shifted its hub to Barbados after being denied permission to set up in Jamaica by the Jamaican Government. Its aims is to provide low-cost airline service to the region. And low cost it is as its web page lists flights from Barbados to either Guyana or Trinidad as low as US$9.99! Operations commenced on May 10, 2011. The airline began marketing tickets on April 13, 2011.

For months, REDjet had been awaiting approval from Jamaica and Trinidad on its application to fly between their respective countries and Barbados because of safety considerations. Both countries have now granted their approval.

The carrier is expected to make its first flight to Port-of-Spain soon - that is about three months after Trinidad and Jamaica denied entry to the carrier.

The matter had triggered a verbal brawl between Caribbean Community leaders, several political and bureaucratic meetings and questions about the safety of REDjet's 24-year-old fleet of passenger jets.

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Caribbean people worried about crime -UN survey

A soon-to-be-published United Nations report on citizen security in the region shows large sections of Caribbean people feel unsafe and do not have confidence in what is being done to combat crime. The Victimisation Survey was undertaken on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Caribbean Human Development Report and conducted in seven countries, namely, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, during the period November 2010 to February 2011.

Communication consultant Kevin Garcia reported that 11,207 people were polled across the seven Caribbean countries with the main question being, "Do you think that crime is a major social problem?"

He said the perception-of-insecurity poll showed St Lucia at the top with 42 per cent, followed by Trinidad and Tobago at 38 per cent, and Jamaica, "surprisingly, at third with 26 per cent".

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Jamaicans owe 3 courts  a whopping J$28 million 

Hundreds of unexecuted warrants in three randomly selected courts audited by the Auditor General Department (AGD) in 2009-2010 are slowing the process of justice, leaving the authorities no closer to recovering almost $28 million in related costs.

"The records of the courts show that there were some 814 unexecuted warrants for the violation of bail bonds involving some $27 million. Now, if that rate extends across to other courts offices, that means we're talking in the realms of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of unexecuted bail bonds, which means that the courts are offering bail, people are absconding and nothing is happening," PAC Chairman Peter Phillips said.

Continuing, he said, "Apart from the loss of money, the justice system is being treated as a joke by the people who commit themselves, and are offered bail. It's an unimaginable situation in terms of the consequences that is has for justice, law and order, as well as for financial administration. How did the system break down to this degree?

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Inequality and poverty in Latin America

Over the past decade stdies have shown that income inequality and poverty in Latin America have been on the decline.  These two key socio-economic indicators have historically plagued the region, inhibiting it from prospering. Although most of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean still suffer from very high levels of inequality and poverty, the region has made important initial strides in reducing these statistics. Some countries have improved far more than others, when measured by the Gini index, a statistical measurement for inequality ranging from 0 to 1.  For example, Uruguay, at .433 in 2009, and Venezuela, at .412 in 2008, recorded lower Gini coefficients than the United States (.468) in 2009.   Peru (.469), El Salvador (.478), Ecuador (.500) and Costa Rica (.501) all recorded Gini coefficients within range of the United States, and in 2009, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay each had lower poverty rates than the United States.

The effects of poverty and inequality can prove devastating on the social and economic landscapes of a country and a region.  Income inequality and economic growth are likely to directly impact poverty, as both high economic growth and a greater degree of equality in income distribution will help to alleviate poverty.  It is true that strong economic growth has helped to reduce poverty in Latin America. However, scholars have noted that the reduction of inequality and poverty over the past decade is partially due to increased levels of effective income distribution, in addition to the reduction in the earnings gap between high and low-skilled workers.  Policies that have been introduced to increase and yield such results include increased spending on education, as well as conditional cash transfer programs (CCT)óa monthly grant to low-income households attached to requirements such as mandatory school attendance. Bolsa Familia in Brazil, Chile Solidario in Chile and their objectives are examples of such programs.

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St. Lucia mourns the passing of Amy Winehouse

Saint Lucia's Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Senator Allen Chastanet is deeply saddened at the loss of the late British singer Amy Winehouse.

"We have lost a good friend and the world has lost a great talent," said Senator Chastanet of the Grammy Award-winning singer who made Saint Lucia her home for many months.Recalling the popular singer's generosity towards local residents, Minister Chastanet said, "We were fortunate to see another side of Amy, and will be forever grateful for the acts of kindness and compassion she extended to less fortunate Saint Lucians during her visits with us."
"Saint Lucians join me in extending our condolences to Amy's family, friends and fans during this difficult period," said Senator Chastanet.

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Jamaicans get creative with 'scandal bags'

In case you donít know, scandal bags is the Jamaican slang for those plastic grocery bags, which though convenient, has become a major pollutant worldwide. Women in Hagley Gap, St. Thomas, Jamaica, are using scandal bags to create handbags, hats and clothing. Zeidi Neutville, project manager for the Blue Mountain Project - which is dedicated to partnering with the people of Hagley Gap district to improve health, education and the economy - reported that creative and innovative ways are developed to engage the women in the community. Neutville pointed out that:

"We have about 10 ladies here, and we operate at the clinic daily, and they use scandal bags to make things like hats, handbags, beach bags, market bags, among other things," "What we do is collect the bags, and the ladies cut them into long strips. They then roll them unto sticks, and then they crochet them into whatever is it that they want to make".

"The branch abroad collects bags for us, and the Pan Caribbean company along with GraceKennedy also come on board in collecting bags for us, so that our ladies have enough materials to work with".

The aim is to create a platform where the women can be gainfully occupied.

The project creates an avenue through which they can earn money and make themselves marketable.

"We, however, wish that we could have more persons coming on-board to assist with funding and sponsors. We are still blessed. Our branch abroad does different fund-raising events, such as candle sales and walkathons, among other things, but I would appreciate if more persons could come on-board to help with funds".

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Jamaica cause hold-up of millions in EU aid

Millions of dollars in European Union (EU) aid to Jamaica are on hold because of the finance ministry's failure to publish the results of the last two International Monetary Fund quarterly (IMF) performance reviews of the economy.

Head of the EU delegation in Jamaica, Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, reported that the money earmarked for the cash-strapped Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has not been disbursed because of the country's failure to get the IMF stamp of approval, and because the force has failed to meet some of its reform targets.

In February 2010, the IMF approved a 27-month standby arrangement with Jamaica, which included borrowings of US$1.3 billion and the Financial-Sector Support Fund (FSSF) of US$950 million.

The FSSF was seeded by the IMF's US$450 million, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which gave US$300 million, and the World Bank which provided US$200 million.

Jamaica entered the arrangement seeking support for the country's economic reforms to bolster its balance of payments and to temper the effects of the global economic meltdown. Some of the money was also for budgetary support.

Up to earlier this month, Jamaica had received total disbursements of about US$838.2 million at the end of the third review covering the three-month period to September 2010.

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The role of remittances in Latin America and the Caribbean

Remittances from family members working in the U.S. constitute a significant portion of the GDP in many Latin American countries.  In Haiti, remittances compose a record 30 percent of GDP, followed by Honduras (25.6%), Guyana (24.5%), Jamaica (18.5%), and El Salvador (18.2%).   As a whole, Latin America receives USD 58.9 billion every year, dwarfing both U.S. FDI (USD 19.2 billion, 17% of total) and foreign aid (USD 448 million) to the region combined.  While remittances do not ultimately solve economic deficiencies in these countries, many families rely on them to survive.  These payments also help families send their children to school, obtain better healthcare, and improve their homes.  Complementing direct cash payments to family members, cross border organizations, known as Home Town Associations (HTA), link immigrants to their home communities by creating communal funds to improve local infrastructure and undertake development projects.  Moreover, remittances create an even larger economic and social community throughout the Americas, held together by a circular flow of people and money. 

 

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