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bulletObama wins! The world wins!
bulletByron Lee is dead
bulletObama picks Bajan-American for AG
bulletJamaica chooses coal
bulletBuy Caribbean on the cheap
bulletCongo - Deadliest war since Hitler
bullet30% drop in AIDS cases for 2007 in Jamaica
bulletJamaica health sector underfunded
bulletJetBlue expanding air service in the Caribbean
bulletJamaica signs new rice deal with Guyana
bulletDisappointing times for sugar in the region
bulletUWI opens new Jamaican campus in Montego Bay
bulletMedical tourism booming in Costa Rica
bulletRenewable energy projects underway in Jamaica
bulletT&T alone advances in soccer World Cup
bulletJamaica wins Caribbean soccer championship cup



Boycott Money and Save Your Soul - Launching the Goodwill Revolution
by Michael I Phillips

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
Special Introductory Offer $9.95

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

Buy through Paypal or  send check for $9.95 + $3 (shipping) to 
Hot Calaloo
PO Box 411
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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.



December 2008

Obama wins, the world wins

Christmas came early this year. It came on November 4 and how merry it was when Barack Obama won the presidential election of the US. Anyway, Hot Calaloo wishes all a belated Merry Christmas on December 25th.
All over, the weary world rejoices at the Obama victory. Polls estimate 99% Caribbean-Americans supported him. Except for overthrowing the democratically elected government of Haiti, George Bush has neglected the Caribbean. By contrast, already President-elect Obama has promised to strengthen ties with the Caribbean and lend support in a most meaningful way.

"Latin America and islands in the Caribbean have one of the highest murder rates in the world. The Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary will meet their Caribbean and Latin American counterparts in the first year of the Obama presidency to produce a regional strategy to combat drug trafficking, domestic and transnational gang activity, and organized crime," said Obama.

In order to achieve these goals, Obama indicated plans


to strengthen the police force and judiciary in many Latin American and Caribbean countries which would include the development of data-driven and technology-supported policing systems.


to aid in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty in the world by 2015 by doubling foreign assistance to US$50 billion.


to amend the North American Free Trade agreement and to provide one hundred percent debt cancellation for heavily indebted poor countries such Guyana, Bolivia, St Lucia, Paraguay, Honduras and Haiti


to rebuild diplomatic links throughout the hemisphere by bolstering US interests in the region by pursuing policies that advance democracy, opportunity, and security and will treat our hemispheric partners and neighbors with dignity and respect.


to empower their best ambassadors of freedom by allowing unlimited Cuban-American family travel and remittances to Cuba.

Obama and Biden advocated a new initiative which Obama said would foster cooperation within the region to combat gangs, trafficking and violent criminal activity. It will strive to find the best practices that work across the hemisphere and to tailor approaches to fit each country".

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Byron Lee is dead

Legendary bandleader Byron Lee lost his battle with cancer and died at the University Hospital of the West Indies at the age of 73. He had been fighting transitional cell cancer and was being treated in Miami, Florida. He was later diagnosed with bladder cancer two years ago and returned to Jamaica, by air ambulance, on Saturday, October 25. He is survived by his wife, Sheila, sons Byron Jr, Edward John, daughters Deanna, Judith, Julianne and Danielle as well as grandchildren Amelia, Alexander, Jessica, Victoria, Amanda, Jaden and Dylan.

Lee was recently conferred with the Order of Jamaica during a special ceremony at the hospital last week. He was given the award by Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall and the prime minister. The Order of Jamaica is the nation's fourth-highest honour. Lee was awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer class) in 1982. That honour was upgraded to Commander class in 2007.

Bands come and bands go but Byron Lee and the Dragoneers seemed to go on forever. His career spans more than 50 years and he is credited with being one of the leading musicians to bring Jamaican music to the world. Lee was perhaps the most well-known Jamaican bandleader in the world. Lee was 20 years old when he formed his band, the Dragonaires, in 1957, and has since travelled the world and assisted to popularise the carnival tradition in Jamaica through the annual Jamaica Carnival. Byron lee is a tremendous loss not only to Jamaica, but to the Caribbean, where his music earned him the title of the Caribbean's No 1 band.

Editor’s Note: I remember Byron from the first time I saw him. He was no musician then, but was centre forward for St. Georges College Manning Cup football team and he was a dangerous one too.

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Obama picks Bajan-American for AG

President-elect Barack Obama has picked Bajan-American Eric Holder Jr. to be the next and first ever black US Attorney General. Both parents hail from Batbados. Holder himself was born in New York. is a former Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, United States Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He is currently a senior legal advisor to President-elect Barack Obama, a position he also held in Obama's campaign. He was one of three members of Obama's vice-presidential selection committee. Clinton nominated and Holder served as Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno. He even served briefly as Acting Attorney General under President George W. Bush, until the Senate confirmed Bush's nominee, John Ashcroft.

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Jamaica chooses coal

Coal is in and LNG ( liquefied natural gas) is out. Jamaica's inability to source LNG has forced the Prime Minister Golding's administration to abandon the commodity as the primary energy source for the country's development for coal as its key fuel source.

This is contingent on the island's alumina refineries agreeing to having coal-fired plants, which would require the building out of a US$300-million (J$21.6 billion) infrastructure to enable the burning of the carbon. The bauxite/alumina sector uses approximately a third of the power generated in Jamaica. Jamaica's national domestic energy grid - outside the bauxite alumina sector - is about 800 megawatts, but the Government has projected that this needs to increase by 210 megawatts by 2012.

The past administration had planned much of the expansion of a substantial conversion to LNG. Among the projects predicated on LNG was a US$1-billion expansion of the Jamalco alumina refinery - jointly owned by the Government and Alcoa - whose capacity was to be nearly doubled to 2.8 million tons a year. The refinery would have a new 80-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant, which would sell excess electricity to the national grid.

Initially, Jamaica expected to get 1.1 million tons of LNG annually from its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partner, Trinidad and Tobago, starting in 2009, then Venezuela, then Columbia. However, one by one the deals fell through because of inability of each to develop new fields on time and also because of increased demand at home and abroad.

Demand for LNG has been increasing, tightening supplies and raising prices. Coal, on the other hand, is abundant and cheap. So the Government has abandoned its quest for LNG in favor of coal. The government contends that it is more conducive to small- and medium-scale expansions, thereby allowing for a gradual upgrade in power production to meet demand as required.

However, even though proponents claim a ‘clean coal" technology, environmentalists say no such thing exists. Even now there are world wide protests by environmental groups such as Greenpeace against the start-up of new coal plants. These plants generate fine particle air pollution, soot, which can cause increased deaths, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, and a variety of lesser respiratory symptoms.

It is estimated that fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants cuts short the lives of over 30,000 people each year. Reducing the sulphur dioxide in the soot, would save lives, but the technology to do that is expensive and could increase electricity rates.

Editor’s Note: It is a very heated debate, but I wonder if such a debate will take place in Jamaica. If coal is so cheap, how come everybody wants LNG?

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Buy Caribbean on the cheap

UK buyers are being urged to buy up Caribbean properties on the cheap. The economic crisis is seen as a great opportunity for UK buyers to pick up Caribbean real estate. Bermuda, Grand Bahama and Barbados are considered the most expensive, with The Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Aruba among the least expensive.

Since local currencies are linked to the yankee dollar, and the value is dropping like a stone, the British pound can buy a lot more. Also with more developments of apartments and smaller properties available in these locations, and offers for off-plan purchases to encourage investors, there are great opportunities.

Editors Note: This might be great for foreigners but is a disaster for locals. I know in Jamaica, the red carpet is rolled out for these and other foreign speculators. This is bound to drive the price of real estate so that in time only foreigners will be able to buy. I hope when foreigners buy up all the land, they will be kind to Jamaicans.  I recall being shocked to see Spain’s famous Costa del Sol. Well I did not actually see it as it was blocked by skyscrapers in unbelievable overdevelopment. There were so many properties owned by Brits there, that large areas had road signs in English only instead of Spanish.

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Congo - Deadliest war since Hitler

The Congo is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today where nearly 6 million people have died since 1996, half of them children 5 yrs old or younger and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped all as a result of the scramble for Congo's wealth. The United Nations said it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two. Can you imagine 45,000 people dying each month and hardly a peep from anyone in the age of the Internet? This is literally what has happened and continue to happen in the Congo." However, hardly anything is said about it in the media. Surely this is not the Caribbean, but Hot Calaloo felt compelled to include this strangely missing information.

London's The Independent commentator Johan Hari wrote "The deadliest war since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe is starting again – and you are almost certainly carrying a blood-soaked chunk of the slaughter in your pocket. It is no tribal conflict. The United Nations investigation found it was a war led by "armies of business" to seize the metals that make our 21st-century society zing and bling. Congo is the richest country in the world for gold, diamonds, coltan, cassiterite, and more. Everybody wanted a slice – so six other countries invaded.

"These resources were not being stolen to for use in Africa. They were seized so they could be sold on to the west. The more the west bought, the more the invaders stole – and slaughtered. The rise of mobile phones caused a surge in deaths, because the coltan they contain is found primarily in Congo. The UN named the international corporations it believed were involved: Anglo-America, Standard Chartered Bank, De Beers and more than 100 others western corporations. So, masses of people are being displaced from the villages, from the cities, simply because they live in a area rich of minerals."

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30% drop in AIDS cases for 2007 in Jamaica

The Ministry of Health for Jamaica reports that there was a 30 per cent decrease in the number of new AIDS cases in 2007 when compared with the previous year. Data also indicate a drop in the number of AIDS-related deaths.

Senior medical officer for the National HIV/STI Program, Dr Kevin Harvey, has attributed the reduction largely to the introduction of public access to antiretroviral treatment since 2004. It is estimated that 6,500 people are in need of antiretroviral therapy. However, only approximately 4,736 are actually receiving treatment.

The 2007 HIV/AIDS Epidemic update also indicates that 73 per cent of all AIDS cases last year were in the 20 to 49 age group.

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Jamaica health sector underfunded

Dr Rosemarie Wright-Pascoe, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica, contends that seven months after fees were abolished in public health facilities across the island, a shortage of resources and other problems still dog the system. The concerns are that there is not enough money to fund the health sector. There are problems with maintenance of equipment, air conditioners in operating theatres working intermittently and some laboratory facilities still not functioning. She also noted that a shortage of pharmacists was resulting in a delay in persons getting medication.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and the Environment reported that more than half-a-million patient visits have been made to public health facilities since the abolition of user fees. In giving the breakdown of the figure, Health Minister Ruddy Spencer said in a release that there were over 329,617 patient visits to public hospitals between April and August of this year.

Spencer said that the figure represents more than a 16 per cent increase over patient visits for the comparative period for 2007. In addition, there were some 245,720 patient visits to health centers up to June, an almost 28 per cent increase over the corresponding period for last year.

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JetBlue expanding air service in the Caribbean

JetBlue likes the Caribbean. So much so that the New York-based airline is expanding service in the region.


In June it announced plans to increase flights from Puerto Rico to Boston, New York and Orlando, Fla., this winter.


In August, the carrier announced nonstop routes between Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Later that month, JetBlue also mentioned plans for nonstop flights from Tampa and Washington, D.C. to Cancun, Mexico.

But JetBlue isn’t the only carrier interested in the Caribbean. AirTran, for instance, announced new service to Puerto Rico in June. And early this month it announced new service to Cancun. Delta also has plans to boost service to Caribbean destinations for the winter. One carrier that has been cutting back its service to the Caribbean is American, which started reducing flights to destinations such as San Juan in September.

But Air Jamaica must go!
So proclaim Jamaica Gleaner headlines as the Government tries to unload, I mean divest, the money-draining airline. Prime Minister Bruce Golding has made it clear that it does not want the cash-bleeding airline on the books when it prepares the 2009-2010 Budget. The airline's management is in talks with several potential buyers. But Air Jamaica has been through this before and the worldwide economic conditions does not make any airline particularly attractive at this time. Meanwhile tourist interests, not only in Jamaica, but all over the Caribbean are dismayed that such divestment could handicap their industry.

Editors Note: Here we go again. A few months ago, the Government paid Air Jamaica’s competitor, American Airllines, J300 million not to reduce flights to Jamaica. New CEO’s come and go but losses continue because there is no real change in policy. 
Hot Calaloo suggestions:


Reduce gateways in US to two, Miami and New York.


So instead of Air Jamaica planes, lease seats in bargain airlines such as AirTrans, Southwest, to connect former gateways to Miamia and New York. It would be good for Air Jamaica, the bargain airlines, and passenger service would not be reduced. 


Consider reducing gateways in the Caribbean too and leasing seats in local airlines, such as LLIAT, Air Guyana


Reduce the frequency of flights out of the US or elsewhere so as to ensure full capacity on flights. Why do we need daily flights if we can’t fill the plane?

I am confident these ideas would save a bundle.

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Jamaica signs new rice deal with Guyana

Jamaica has signed another agreement with its CARICOM partner, Guyana to import 60,000 tons of rice in 2009. Under the terms of agreement, Guyana is to supply Jamaica with an average 5,000 metric tons of rice per month at market prices starting on January 1 and continuing through to the end of the year.

Earlier this year the Bharat-Jagdeo-led administration in Guyana had expressed concern about the agreement between both countries concerning the importation of rice. Jamaica claimed that Guyana was unable to meet the demand and then applied for a suspension of the Common External Tariff, CET to import rice from outside the region.

Subsequently both countries held bilateral talks and Guyana eventually supported the CET suspension on condition that Jamaica imported 60-thousand tons of rice over a 12 month period.
In this latest agreement if Guyana is unable to supply the agreed quantities of rice, Jamaica will be notified and there will be no objection to the suspension of the CET.

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Disappointing times for sugar in the region

It has been a very disappointing year for Caribbean sugar. Karl James, Chairman of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean says bad weather left the region's main producers unable to supply their usual quota to the export market.


Total sugar produced was 519,481 tons.


Guyana was the lead producer with just under 269,000 tons, followed byJamaica with a little under 141,000.


Belize produced a little more than 79 thousand tons, while Barbados produced the least with 30, 320 tons. 


A total of 438,555 tons were exported to the EU market, 12,600 tons were delivered to the US while the Caricom market received just over 30-thousand tons. 

In the meantime, producers say they are looking forward to the next crop, which will be the final year of the existing Sugar Protocol, with the implementation of the new EPA arrangements to follow. So, at the start of 2009, the price of export sugar will drop down to 448.80 Euros per ton and by October 1, 2009, the full effect of the 36 per cent price reduction will be factored in. This will see prices dropping further to 335.20 Euros per ton.

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UWI opens new Jamaican campus in Montego Bay

The official opening ceremony and dedication of the UWI's Mona Western Jamaica Campus (WJC) in Montego Bay took place on Saturday, November 29,2008., UWI Principal, Professor Gordon Shirley, revealed that it was after years of planning, and seeing a need to complement the region's educational need at the tertiary level, why the decision was made to expand to western Jamaica. The institution actually opened in August, at which time more than 200 students enrolled at the state-of-the-art facility.

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Medical tourism booming in Costa Rica

"Do you know the way to San Jose" asks that popular Dionne Warwick song. Well it seems an increasing number seeking medical treatment are asking "Do you know the way to San Jose, Costa Rica". As economic crisis is clobbering tourism everywhere, medical tourism is booming in Costa Rica and the Caribbean should take note.

According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board, 95 percent of the estimated medical tourists who come to Costa Rica each year are from the US. The majority are uninsured or underinsured. Medical treatment is not only less expensive than in the US, but it is often less expensive than the deductible insured patients would pay for the same treatment at home.
Bill Cook, international patient coordinator at Hospital Clínica Bíblica in San José reports that . Clínica Bíblica has been attracting medical tourists since the mid-1990s, but the number of foreign patients has tripled in the last year to about 30 per month.
Labour costs are so different.. Healthcare prices are 30 to 40 percent lower than in the US.

To develop and promote medical tourism, Costa Rican hospitals, doctors and government agencies have formed the Council of International Promotion of Costa Rica Medicine (PROMED), which is about to be launched. Its president, Dr Jorge Cortes, said PROMED will also organise and establish quality standards for the industry.

In another development, 20 doctors have formed Costa Rican Medical Holding, the country's first medical tourism consortium. The group will promote its services primarily in the US, where it also hopes to cultivate working relationships with insurance companies. This group of health professionals has been working together for over two years. By formalising links, these doctors seek to actively participate in health fairs, commercial missions and promotions initiated by Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Corporation. The group seek to coordinate its promotion with local transportation and tour operator companies as well as with several specialised recovering homes. They will also contact specialised travel agents in the US to promote their services.

Meanwhile, clients of South Carolina-based dental travel company Companion Global Dental now have a third option in San Jose, Costa Rica, for obtaining dental care at a fraction of the US cost. Companion has added Adult Dentistry of Costa Rica to its network of dental clinics. Led by Dr   Mario Garita, the clinic specialises in implant dentistry joins CGD-affiliated Prisma Dental Clinic and Meza Dental Care, both based in San Jose.

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Renewable energy projects underway in Jamaica

THE JAMAICA Public Service Company (JPS) has decided to use two renewable energy sources for its plant, gradually reducing its dependence on oil for electricity generation. The light and power company said work is to commence on the two projects, which involves the use of hydro and wind power, by January, with implementation slated to begin in 2011. These projects will result in the addition of more than nine megawatts of new generating capacity.

Meanwhile, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has said that customers may not see a direct impact on their bills for some 10-15 years after implementation. In the long run the rate will fall with very little overhead in about 10 years,

JPS, even after implementing the project, would still have to pay energy charges, a premium of 15 per cent added to its cost for not using fuel.

While the switch to renewables would not affect billing immediately, some of the benefits that would immediately accrue, among which are a cleaner environment, less dependence on foreign exchange and imported fuels.

The total amount of oil imported in 2007 was 29.9 million barrels compared with 30.9 million barrels the previous year. Even with this reduction in import volume, the cost to import oil increased from US$1.84 billion to US$2.01 billion. The JPS says, since January, it has incurred more than J$37 billion in fuel costs.

The projects being undertaken by the JPS are a 6.3-megawatt hydroelectricity power plant in Maggoty, St Elizabeth, and a three-megawatt wind farm in Munro of the same parish. While the the new hydro project will involve the expansion of an existing hydroelectricity plant, the wind farm project will be the first to be implemented by the JPS. A three-megawatt turbine is being built as a pilot, with plans for future expansion. Both renewable energy projects are expected to cost an estimated US$38.7 million (J$2.94 billion).

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T&T alone advances in soccer World Cup

Trinidad and Tobago is the only team from the Caribbean to advance to the next round of World Cup soccer playoffs. They upset the US 2-1 and defeated Cuba in their last two games to gain the second spot in their group behind the US.

Jamaica made a valiant try, defeating Mexico, Honduras and Canada in their last three games. They tied heavily-favored Mexico in points for second behind upset Group winners Honduras. In their last game against Canada, they needed to win by seven goals, but won 3-0 to yield the second spot to Mexico on goals scored. In the third CONCACAF group, winners Costa Rica and runner-up El Salvador advanced.

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Jamaica wins Caribbean soccer championship cup

Jamaica  partially atoned for their elimination from the World Cup by taking the Digicel Caribbean Championship Cup. Ironically, defending champs T&T failed to make the semi-finals losing to Grenada in the prelims. Jamaica defeated a plucky Grenada team 2-0 in the finals to hand Jamaica’s new coach John Barnes a winning debut. However, the finals, even though in Jamaica, was sparsely attended and many spectators even booed because they considered Jamaica’s play too defensive and boring. But, lets see how they do in the Gold Cup next year in the US.


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