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bulletGeneral strike, murder and mayhem in Guadeloupe
bulletT&T to bailout CL Financial Group
bulletHaiti bars Aristide allies from running for Senate
bulletEconomic crisis hit Jamaic bauxite
bulletEven illegal sex biz hit by recession in Jamaica
bulletEconomic stimulus is not enough
bulletPeanut products recalled from Trinidad and Haiti
bulletJamaican Jews support Israel bombing of Gaza
bulletTerrorism Editorial
bulletBelize fails to pay international arbitration award
bulletLibya to establish People's Bureau in Guyana
bulletGrenada police clamping down on improper dress
bulletJamaica sugar industry woes
bulletBurning Spear wins Grammy again
bulletChavez wins in Venezuela
bulletBob Marley songwriter Ford dies
bulletSexual explicit lyrics in songs raise ire in Jamaica



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

List Price $11.95 (paperback)
Special Clearance

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 $5 + $3 (shipping) to 
Hot Calaloo
PO Box 411
Columbia MD 21045, USA


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.



January/February 2009

General strike, murder and mayhem in Guadeloupe

On January 20, 2009, the Collective Against Extreme Exploitation (LKP, Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon in Guadeloupean Creole), which includes 47 unions, along with political parties and grassroots organizations implemented a general strike which all but shut down Guadeloupe. Even after three weeks the strike was still in force and had even spread to neighboring Martinique. Guadeloupe, like Martinique, is not an independent country, but an Overseas Department of France. That is french for colony of France.

The strikers had 146 demands centered around higher wages and lower cost for basic products. The strike has received broad support from Guadeloupe's 450,000 residents. Some 25,000 people demonstrated in Pointe a Pitre, the capital, at the beginning of the strike, and a demonstration held as negotiators met on Feb. 7 drew about 50,000 protesters.

Guadeloupe has an unemployment rate of more than 20% and a large disparity in wages between workers in the public and private sectors. The cost of living is a central issue: many goods have to be imported, and prices are sometimes twice as high as in France. Conditions are similar on the nearby island of Martinique and in French Guiana, also French overseas departments. On Feb. 5 a dozen unions held a one-day general strike in Martinique, shutting down transportation and businesses.

By the third week of the strike, Guadeloupe, was estimated to lose about 100 million euros (US$130 million) in a month, and economic damage was set to reach the same level in Martinique, where a similar stoppage began a week before. In Guadelope:


Of the 15,000 hotel beds normally occupied in this season, two thirds are empty.
Most shops, cafes, banks, schools and government offices were closed by mass protests


Hotels and resorts have shut down and winter sun holiday flights from Europe were cancelled.


Rioters fired at police and stormed a city hall in three nights of violence


A union activist was killed, apparently by rioters.


Hundreds of French police were sent to the island


Police helicopters were sent to dislodge youth who had forced their way into the city hall of the town of Sainte-Rose.


Rioters rendered many roads impassable by creating barricades forcing police to use helicopters


Rioters shot at gendarmes in the tourist resort town of Gosier


At least five stores, two restaurants and a car dealership were set ablaze in a few towns

bulletAt least 33 persons were arrested

The conflict has exposed race and class divisions on the island, where the local white elite wields power over the black majority. The economy is largely in the hands of the "Bekes," the local name for whites who are mostly descendants of colonial landlords and sugar plantation slave owners of the 17th and 18th centuries.

French government negotiators representing the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon finally have yielded to the union demands, promising to support payments to low-wage earners totalling almost 200 euros (US$250) per person per month.

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T&T to bailout CL Financial Group

The CL financial group is one of the most powerful economic corporations in Trinidad and Tobago and the whole Caribbean. It’s holdings include Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO), Clico Investment Bank (CIB) and Caribbean Money Market Brokers (CMMB).

First CIB began having liquidity problems spurred by an unusually high level of withdrawal requests which put a strain on their available liquid resources. CLICO followed with the same problem to such an extent that the Government had to step in to bail them out.

At the end of January, the Trinidad & Tobago government announced CL Financial, would begin liquidating assets as part of a rescue deal with the government. CLICO, the life insurance and pension plan provider may incur losses of TT$10bn (US$1.60bn) in 2008.

The government has now appointed a new board at CLICO and intends to provide it "full backing and commitment," the central bank governor said. The government also plans to announce a new board for British American Insurance, another of CL Financial's insurance holdings. In announcing the deal with CL Financial in January, the government said it plans to return CLICO to financial health and subsequently list it on the country's stock exchange.

The CL Financial Group has an imposing presence with potentially systemic consequences for the financial sector and the economy of Trinidad and Tobago and the entire region.

For example:


The Group controls over ($100) billion of assets in at least 28 companies located throughout the Region and the world.


The Group’s financial interests cover several industry sectors including banking and financial services, energy, real estate and manufacturing and distribution. The four largest financial institutions in the Group manage assets of over $38 billion, over 25 percent of the country’s GDP.


In addition to Clico, among the Group’s holdings is the British American Insurance Company Limited, which is one of the main insurance companies in the Eastern Caribbean.


It is the ultimate owner of the Jamaica's Lascelles DeMercardo Group.

The principal objectives of the bailout strategy are to ensure that resources are available to meet withdrawals of third-party CIB depositors and Clico policy holders.

But despite the 26 to 15 majority that Manning's People's National Movement (PNM) enjoys in the 41-seat House of Representative, success in the passage of the bills was made difficult by the opposition of the United National Congress and a disgruntled former PNM Minister of Housing, Keith Rowley, who had been fired by Manning the year before.

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Haiti bars Aristide allies from running for Senate

Haitian officials will not let members of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party or a former rebel leader compete in upcoming Senate elections, local radio reported Friday.
Radio Metropole said at least 40 of the 105 candidates who registered in January to run for 12 open seats were rejected. The election is scheduled for April 19. Several stations published a list of approved candidates online. It was unclear why they were chosen, and electoral officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Many Haitians still support Aristide, who lives in exile in South Africa but officially remains the leader of his Fanmi Lavalas Party. In recent months, the party has split over management disputes. Rival factions submitted two separate lists of candidates — but both were apparently rejected.

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Economic crisis hit Jamaica bauxite

Bauxite producers in Jamaica are floundering as a result of the deepening world economic crisis. Just recently, Alumina Partners of Jamaica, ALPART, adopted a reduced work week in a bid not to let workers go. It was forced to send home more than 200 temporary workers following a 50% cut in production due to the fall off in the global demand for aluminium.

Also the West Indies Alumina Company, (WINDALCO) announced this month that it would temporarily close its operations come March. WINDALCO has however stated that it will retain all of its approximately 850 workers during the suspension of operations.

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Even illegal sex biz hit by recession in Jamaica

The economic meltdown that has triggered massive layoffs and production cutbacks in the formal business sector has spread to the illegal sex industry as prostitutes and sensual massage parlours have reported at least a 50 per cent decline in profits and clientele. Here are some comments about the situation made to a Gleaner reporter:

"Men who used to take on three girls have to limit to one, as well as men who used to take a double round have to limit to strictly one time and so I am losing big time" .

"Things could be worse, considering the problem we are facing, so I can't complain. All I can do is thank the Lord for providing"

"Business rough, and that's why mi glad it never work out fi wi pay tax, 'cause nutten nah gwaan," ( referring to calls last year by a government functionary who lobbied for the incorporation of sex workers into the tax net).

"It nuh pretty on the street again but I just want fi make a smalls 'cause mi nuh have no money,"

Opinion is divided on decriminalising prostitution. Some health experts and liberal advocacy groups have said decriminalisation and regulation would reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections, as well as diminish personal safety dangers. However, political administrations have shied away from legal reform. Decriminalisation would be an unpopular move in some quarters, particularly with religious conservatives. Although there are no official figures on the underground sex industry, it is believed to generate several millions of dollars annually.

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US Economic stimulus is not enough

The Caribbean , America and the rest of the world are reeling from the economic crisis. In America , President Obama’s stimulus program will help but is not enough by itself. We also need a lifestyle change. In my book, “Boycott Money and Save Your Soul – Launching the Goodwill Revolution” I sounded the alarm then about the two problem areas which have now become principal causes of the current devastating economic meltdown. They are:

1 The  steady degradation and wholesale export of good American jobs overseas
The  steady degradation and wholesale export of good American jobs overseas led by companies like Wal-Mart. America is fast becoming a nation of hamburger-turners as its manufacturing base has been shipped overseas to benefit from cheap labor. “Made in America ” is fast becoming a thing of the past, as Wal-Mart leads an array of American businesses to produce goods on the cheap overseas, leaving the American worker to settle for worse jobs.  Even former vice-president Cheney’s Halliburton has moved to Dubai ! So all over America , workers are getting less salary and less benefits.  They can afford less, so they buy less.  When they worked to produce cars,  they could afford to buy cars.  So now they work to produce hamburgers, so all they can buy is hamburgers. Now, the worker can't buy, and America can't buy.  So retailers can't sell, go bankrupt, and joblessness surges.

2. The wild extravagant irrational spending of money
The wild extravagant irrational spending of money we don’t have on things advertisers say we need, but really did not. Thanks to these advertisers, we are not happy unless we are gobbling up the Earth’s resources at an alarming pace.  We had better wise up.  Our economy cannot afford this wasteful and extravagant lifestyle anymore.  The limited resources of the earth can not support this wasteful, materialistic and extravagant lifestyle. It is stupid, unsustainable, and even unethical.

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Peanut products recalled from Trinidad and Haiti

Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti are two of four countries from which a US-based company has recalled peanuts, because there is a possibility that it is tainted with bacteria that has sickened and killed people.
The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) issued an alert to recall all of its products it shipped since January 2007. The roasted peanuts, granulated peanuts and peanut meal were shipped to Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Haiti, and Korea.
More than 500 people in 43 states have been sickened by salmonella and eight deaths are linked to the outbreak, triggering the FDA to order one of the largest food recalls in history and asking that consumers throw out every product made by PCA.

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Jamaican Jews support Israel bombing of Gaza

What a disappointment! I expected better from Jamaican Jews. I was surprised. Why?

Check out the following two clips:

1. Good History Lesson:
UK Jewish MP: Israel acting like Nazis in Gaza

2. George Galloway "The West has DOUBLE STANDARDS when it comes to Israel"

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Terrorism Editorial

(I originally submitted this to a US newspaper)
I am getting a bit sick and tired of our self-righteous attitude towards terrorism. We criticize Hezbollah and Hamas and label them terrorist. The fact is that these two groups are the inevitable consequence of US and Israeli policy. The greatest terrorist activity in the world  today, that dwarfs all others in comparison, is the US war on, and occupation of, Iraq. Sorry Barack, but sixteen months to withdraw is too long.

Give this country a real cheap economic stimulus by not spending millions on the occupation and spend it where it is desperately needed, at home here in the US. National Priorities Project estimates that the war is costing $341.4 million per day, which is the equivalent of $4,681 per household and $1,721 per person. Let us earn the goodwill and respect of the world and withdraw within six months rather than trying to cozy up to recalcitrant Republicans. And, above all, let us do it because it is the right thing. Then we can talk to Iran.

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Belize fails to pay international arbitration award

The government of Belize, despite the public assurances of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, has failed to pay an international arbitration award in the amount of US $4,420,586.63 in favour of Newco Limited, a joint venture between German and US investors, relating to the wrongful termination of a concession agreement for the privatization and development of the Philip SW Goldson International Airport in Belize.
The award was delivered in Miami, Florida, by the unanimous decision of the arbitral tribunal formed under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The tribunal also awarded interest at a rate of eight percent compounded quarterly beginning June 23, 2008, the date the award was issued.
This award is not just enforceable in Belize, it is enforceable in the jurisdiction of any of the parties to that convention so that they can seek and obtain an order for enforcement in the states where there are assets of the Government of Belize.
The failure to honour the award after nearly six months since its issuance and the recent retroactive issuance of 68 tax assessments by the government of Belize based upon fictitious monthly revenues have forced Newco to begin legal enforcement of the award. Legal actions will be filed in the countries with which Belize has its major trading and finance relations.

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Libya to establish People's Bureau in Guyana

President Bharrat Jagdeo and his Libyan counterpart Muammar al Qadhafi continued meetings with other government and private sector officials in Tripoli where the Heads of State agreed that Libya would send a committee to open the Libyan People's Bureau in Guyana. This decision aims to further relations between both countries and enhance cooperation with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

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Grenada police clamping down on improper dress

Grenada Police Commissioner James Clarkson is getting tough with young men who wear their pants on their buttocks and expose some parts of the body.
Spice Grenada reported that Clarkson told newsmen that the move is aimed at "bringing back morality into the country". He added that there are some young men who forget where their waist is located, and are now being followed by some women who do the same thing by wearing their clothes at very low levels.

He said that the crackdown by the police is intended to remind these people about the proper dress code when in public. Clarkson who was appointed as head of the police force in August said that he is making a special appeal to parents to remind their children about the decent way to dress.

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Jamaica sugar industry woes

The late start of operations at the of Jamaica’s sugar factories cost some cane farmers millions of dollars as apparently frustrated persons lit fields, destroying hundreds of tons of sugar cane. Up to last week, nearly $22.5 million of cane had been damaged by arsonists prior to the start of operations at the Frome Sugar Factory in Westmoreland on Friday. Operations at the factory normally commence in early December.

SCJ's President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Richard Harrison, says the unavailability of parts to effect repairs to the factories was the reason for the slow start to the crop season. According to Harrison, the company was forced to seek the parts overseas. Local suppliers dispute that. They say most of, if not all, the parts needed to repair the sugar factories are available, but they have not been approached by the SCJ. The suppliers say they are owed millions of dollars by the sugar company, because of which they are dodging them to buy overseas.

Government has been trying to divest the five state-owned sugar factories owned by the SCJ, but has so far missed two deadlines - September 30 and December 3, 2008 - to complete the deal with Brazilian company Infinity Bio-Energy.

It is facing a projected $4.2 billion hole, representing a $2 billion operational loss, and bank penalties, apparently from continuous hefty overdrafts, incurred by the SCJ's four factories during the 2008/2009 season. With an already sizeable $21-billion debt and losses totaling more than $14 billion since 2005, the enterprise has registered losses over a number of years, resulting in a decision by the previous People's National Party-led government to sell it.

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Burning Spear wins Grammy again

Burning Spear Winston Rodney has won his second Grammy. He won the Grammy Award for his 21st album, "Jah is Real". The 2009 edition of the Grammy Awards had about 9 persons from the Caribbean Diaspora nominated for at least one Grammy Award. Jamaicans Heavy D, Lee Scratch Perry, Burning Spear, Elephant Man, Sly & Robbie and Shaggy were all nominated for making the best Reggae Album; Grenada descent Estelle received a nomination for best Rap/Song collaboration, while Bajan Rihanna and Surinamese descent Jazmine Sullivan received multiple nominations.

Estelle and Burning Spear were the only ones to walk away with awards. This is a record eleventh nomination for Spear, while it is Estelle’s first.

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Chavez wins in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won with about 6.3 million votes in the recent referendum on a constitutional amendment for continuous re-election of public offices, by democratic decision of the people. In so doing he joins most other countries(including all the caribbean countries, Britain, France, etc.) which do not impose term limits on their elected leader. With 99.57 percent of the precincts reporting, the followers of Hugo Chavez increased their lead to 54.85 percent while the No option on the referendum had 45.14 percent. Chavez won the referendum in 19 of the 23 states, repeating the electoral triumph of the regional elections for governors and mayors held on Nov. 23, 2008.

This victory is not surprising considering that so far, over the 10 years of the Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution Venezuela has:


Reduced poverty from 43.9% in 1998 to 28.5% in 2007 and even lower today.


Unemployment has been halved to 6%, even lower than that in the US.


Increased the number of doctors from 1,628 to 19,571.


Provided college education to over 1.8 million students, three times the rate 10 years ago.


Created 25,000 community councils elected in every neighborhood in the country.


Enabled the creation of 34 locally controlled community television stations and 400 radio stations in the barrios throughout Venezuela.


Despite a 50 percent increases in the prices of food last year, local merchants offer government subsidized cooking oil, corn meal, meat, powered milk at 30-50 percent off market price.


There are now 3,500 local communal banks with a $1.6 billion dollar budget offering neighborhood-based micro-financing loans for home improvements, small businesses, and personal emergencies.

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Bob Marley songwriter Ford dies

Vincent Ford, a songwriter credited with composing the Bob Marley reggae classic "No Woman, No Cry," has died in Jamaica. He was 68. He died at a hospital of complications from diabetes. The song, which appeared on Marley's 1974 "Natty Dread" album, was inspired by the Kingston ghetto of Trench Town where Marley and Ford lived in the 1960s. Ford is credited with the tune. However, some critics contend that Marley wrote it himself but gave Ford the credit to help his friend support himself with the royalties.

Ford, who ran a soup kitchen and lost both his legs to diabetes, is also credited with three songs on Marley's 1976 album "Rastaman Vibration."

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Sexual explicit lyrics in songs raise ire in Jamaica

Schoolchildren singing and erotic dancing to a popular song sweeping Jamaica has raised the ire of the Government, churches, parents and a broad spectrum of people across Jamaica, from the Prime Minister down. Radio stations have banned it but that is obviously not enough. It has forced scrutiny on the loud raucous playing of such ‘dagger’ songs in public transport, notably taxis. More regulation against such songs seems imminent. Ah for the good old days of conscious lyrics.


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