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bulletPNP take Jamaica elections by landslide
bulletUS bars Cuban President from T&T Hilton Hotel
bulletUS spy plane over Jamaica monitored Tivoli operation
bulletPPP/C's Ramotar becomes Guyana's new president
bulletSelling off Jamaica but not Dunn’s River Falls
bulletLatin American, Caribbean nations form new bloc
bulletCaribbean blasts UK for increased travel tax
bulletGuyana opposition members injured after cops fire on protesters
bulletUSVI Government to lay off nearly 500 
bulletLIAT pilots call in sick, ground flights

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


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


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



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 2012

PNP takes Jamaica elections by landslide

The pollsters were wrong. They predicted a close election. JLP leader Andrew Holness called for the elections within three weeks, within the Christmas-New Years holiday season, obviously anticipating an opportune time for a JLP victory. But they were all wrong. After the elections were held on December 29 and the dust cleared, the Portia Simpson-Miller led PNP emerged 2-1 winners, winning 42 seats to the JLP’s 21.

The win marks a remarkable political comeback for former Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who was Jamaica's first female leader during her year-and-a-half-long first stint in office that ended in 2007. She defeated Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who at 39 is Jamaica's youngest leader and leads the  Jamaica Labor Party.

This time around, she has pledged to lift debt-wracked Jamaica out of poverty, secure foreign investment, and create jobs. Specifics are few, however. Her party will face deep economic problems in this island of 2.8 million people, with a punishing debt of roughly $18.6 billion, or 130 per cent of gross domestic product. That's a rate about 10 percentage points higher than debt-troubled Italy's.

Holness, who became prime minister two months ago after Bruce Golding, Jamaica's leader since 2007, abruptly stepped down in October amid anemic public backing, won his parliamentary seat with 54 percent of the vote.

Simpson Miller has been a stalwart of the People's National Party since the 1970s. She was first elected to Parliament in 1976 and became a Cabinet member in 1989. Partisans have long admired Simpson Miller as a Jamaican who was born in rural poverty and grew up in a Kingston ghetto, not far from the crumbling concrete jungle made famous by Bob Marley.

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US bars Cuban President from T&T Hilton Hotel

It is obvious that sovereignty of other countries does not mean much to the US. Recently Cuban President Raul Castro arrived in Port-of-Spain for the fourth Cuban-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit .However, the US-based hotel chain, Hilton Worldwide, barred entry to the Cuban president claiming that the hotel had been denied a special licence from the United States government to allow for the meeting to be held at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre. The hotel manager read a statement from Hilton Worldwide, indicating that it is subject to U.S. law, which restricts certain activities as a result of the trade embargo with Cuba.
The summit was moved to the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in the capital.

T&T Foreign Affairs Minister Suruj Rambachan in a cowardly statement said, "The U.S., I suppose, are within their rights to carry out what they have done in terms of the Helms-Burton law, having their tentacles stretching out here in Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Caribbean."

Thankfully this spineless opinion was not shared by others. The union representing workers at the hotel was even more critical, pointing out that the "hotel is owned 100 percent by nationals of Trinidad and Tobago" General Secretary of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) John Julian told reporters that the facility had recently undergone a multi-million-dollar rehabilitation and "Hilton International did not put any money in it.
"For it to come now and say that you need to get permission we find that to be insultive to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and CARICOM," he said.

The Trinidad Express newspaper in an editorial Thursday said it regarded the U.S. move as a "slap in the face" for the host country.
"That the Hilton Trinidad, owned by the State, was effectively prohibited by dictate under U.S. law from holding a conference to be attended by Cuban President Raul Castro feels like a slap in the face of Trinidad and Tobago and a contemptuous overriding of national sovereignty," it said.

However, Castro must have been heartened by the renewed call from the CARICOM leaders for Washington to end its decades-old trade and economic embargo against the Cuba.

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US spy plane monitored Tivoli operation

Then Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Andrew Holness, had to reveal that the United States Government provided surveillance assistance to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) through the presence of a spy plane over Tivoli Gardens during the May 24, 2010 operations in the West Kingston community to serve a warrant on convicted drug lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

At first this was denied emphatically by National Security Minister Dwight Nelson stating that the United States government did not, at any time, participate in the operations in Tivoli Gardens. Then PM Holness had to ‘fess up when the spy plane operation was revealed by an investigative piece published on December 12, 2011 in the American magazine, the New Yorker.

According to the article , a Lockheed P-3 Orion, belonging to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was flying above Kingston on May 24 "in support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Jamaican Government". The article was authentic as it was written by Mattathias Schwartz from a DHS incident report obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

According to this report:

bulletAll scenes were continuously recorded.
bulletDuring surveillance, the aircraft observed
bulletapproximately 40 armed Jamaican soldiers/law enforcement officers dressed in camouflage raiding most of the surrounding buildings and houses.
bulletmultiple vehicle fires and building fires throughout Tivoli Gardens and the surrounding area.
bulletSeveral groups of people running in and around buildings to avoid the military.

The State Department and the DEA have also officially acknowledged that the aircraft assisted the Jamaican government during the Tivoli operation.

At the end of the Tivoli operation more than 70 people were killed, including a member of the Jamaica Defence Force.

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PPP/C's Ramotar becomes Guyana's new president

Donald Ramotar has become the new president of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana as the incumbent People's Progressive Party/Civic won its fifth successive general election. The PPP/C won 32 seats, the APNU 26, and the AFC 7 giving the incumbent a minority government with an oppositioned-controlled majority in the parliament, a first in Guyana. 

The 61-year-old Ramotar has been the General Secretary of the PPP since 1997 and was appointed Political Advisor to the two-term president Bharrat Jagdeo as his months in office wound down. 

The career politician holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the University of Guyana and has also pursued studies in Moscow.

In 1975 he was appointed Manager of party headquarters Freedom House, a position that he held for eight years.

From 1983 to 1988, he served as a member of the Editorial Council of the magazine ‘Problems of Peace and Socialism’ and as the International Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) between 1988 and 1993.

Having joined the PPP in 1967 Ramotar has been in the leadership of the party since 1979 when he was elected to the Central Committee. He became a member of the Executive Committee of the PPP in 1983 and assumed the position of Executive Secretary of the party one year after the PPP was restored to office in 1992.

He became the General Secretary in March 1997 when Dr. Cheddi Jagan passed away. He has published a number of articles and is a regular columnist for the PPP-aligned Mirror Newspaper. He was also a member of the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and a Bureau member of that organisation and a serving member of Guyana’s National Assembly since 1992.

Ramotar also served on several corporate boards. He is married to Deolatchmee Ramotar and is the father of three.

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Selling-off Jamaica but not Dunn’s River Falls ...yet

Let us hope the new Jamaica government will not continue selling off Jamaica. Alarm was raised that Jamaica was selling off its world famous Dunns River Falls. Thankfully, the then Minister of Information and the Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams said Dunn's River Falls will not be divested by the Government of Jamaica. But, Reach Falls in Portland; the Two Sisters Cave and Fort Clarence Beach in St. Catherine; Green Grotto Caves in Trelawny and the Laughing Waters bathing beach in St. Ann are among the attractions to be placed on the auction block.

The Cabinet has given approval for the signing of a contract to the company which will manage the sale of the six attractions now run by the UDC.

"The contract is to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in the amount of $29.3 million and it concerns a number of local attractions which will be privatised so that the UDC can get back to its core business, rather than seeking to run entities," the then minister with responsibility for information Arthur Williams told the weekly post-Cabinet media.

According to the DBJ, the consultants will be required to recommend the best divestment modality, package the assets for divestment and identify suitable operators and/or developers for the local attractions.

The plan to divest the attractions was first announced last year by then JLP Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

At that time, Golding had declared that while negotiations were taking place, the Government was seeking to privatise the management of the attraction as there was no way the "ownership of an asset like that will ever leave the people of Jamaica".

Deloitte LLP is one of the Big Four accounting firms, focusing on auditing, financial advising, taxes and consulting. It is the United States' member firm of UK private company Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

Editors Note: I hope the new government abandons this shameful waste of taxpayer mone and discontinues this practice of selling our birthright. At this rate Jamaicans might become just tenants in our own land.

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Latin American, Caribbean nations form new bloc

The hemisphere formed a powerful new bloc of nations Saturday that stretches from Chile to Mexico, includes one out of every 10 people on the planet and is seeing surging growth and economic stability in a time of global turmoil.

The 33 members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, vowed to push regional integration, boost commerce, form a common front against everything from global warming to the drug trade and to reduce the once overwhelming influence of the United States on the politics and economics of Latin America. It s seen as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), the regional body organized largely by Washington in 1948 as a countermeasure to potential Soviet influence in the region.

After two days of meetings in Venezuela, leaders signed the Caracas Declaration, which breathes life into an organization that includes every country in the region except the United States and Canada. Chile will preside over the group in 2012, then Cuba in 2013.

The event brought together a disparate group of nations with sometimes competing visions for the CELAC. Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, among others, see the body as a tool to blunt U.S. influence in the region and rival the Organization of American States – which they accuse of being under U.S. sway.

Another faction, which includes Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia, expects the new body to work hand-in-hand with existing multilateral organizations.

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Caribbean blasts UK for increased travel tax

Britain has made it official. In a 26-page document the Cameroun government has declared Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates to Caribbean destinations will continue to be considerably higher than those to some competitor destinations, for instance Hawaii.

The Caribbean has strongly criticised the United Kingdom government, accusing it of showing complete disregard for the region's future economic prosperity and the role of tourism in its development.

In a recent press release, both the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association (CHTA) condemned the UK Treasury's decision to increase the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) by eight per cent as of April 2012.

"The decision is in total contrast to the stated policy of the UK's desire to improve its relations with the independent Caribbean and Britain's overseas territories in the Caribbean," said the CHTA.

CTO's chairman, Ricky Skerritt, described the move as a slap in the face for all Caribbean people. "It dismisses all of the research and information CTO has provided to the British government over the past three years, and it contradicts the message sent by the UK chancellor, George Osborne MP, in March 2011, when he cited the discrepancy between the USA and Caribbean APD rates as one of the reasons for holding a consultation on reform of UK APD."

He said the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region of the world and the British government's decision totally ignores the negative effect that APD is having on the region's economies and its business partners in the UK travel industry.

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Guyana opposition members injured after cops fire on protesters

Heavily armed and helmeted police in full riot gear yesterday shot and injured several opposition members who were protesting the disputed November 28 general election in Guyana and pushing demands for a unity government, raising the tension level in Georgetown to a new and palpably uncomfortable level.

The opposition members had assembled in the city for a march through the streets of Georgetown.

Among the injured were retired immediate past army chief of staff Brigadier Edward Collins, attorney-at-law and youth arm leader James Bond, 79-year-old Sarah Johnson and at least five other protesters of the main opposition, A Partnership For National Unity (APNU). They were injured moments after they had assembled at the Square of the Revolution for a street demonstration to protest alleged rigging at last week's polls. The square is a mere 50 yards from the presidential secretariat.

Police used rubber bullets from relatively close up to the main group of protesters to disperse them, injuring Collins, 58 and Bond, 30 before hauling them off to the nearby Central Police Station while still bleeding.

Eight children and an asthmatic teacher from a nearby primary school were rushed to the Georgetown Hospital after smoke, from tear gas fired by the police at the protesters, was carried by the wind into the institution.

APNU leader David Granger, a retired army commander and brigadier, vowed that the struggle to have an all party reconciliation of statements of polls from voting stations agreed to by the elections commission must continue. The APNU is also pushing for some form of power sharing in the country as more than half of the population had voted against the governing People's Progressive Party (PPP) and should be represented at the executive level.

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USVI Government to lay off nearly 500 

The largest single employer in the United States Virgin Islands is government, and now even it is being forced to lay off staff as the territory’s fiscal crisis deepens.

Governor John de Jongh announced on December 28, that 143 temporary and part-time workers will be dismissed on December 30, and that another 350 workers will receive dismissal letters on January 5. And, he warned that additional layoffs might be needed.

The territory faces a US$17.4 million deficit this year and an estimated US$90 million deficit next year.

The governor blamed legislators for the dismissals, saying they have rejected other proposals including wage cuts to offset a budget crisis.

Approximately 13,000 employees and retirees are on the government’s pay roll. The private sector provides approximately 30,000 jobs, with the majority in the retail trade and service industries, where low wages are common. The driver of these two industries is tourism, which has been in a prolonged slump. There were 108 612 residents in the US Virgin Islands according to the last Census.

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LIAT pilots call in sick, ground flights

Pilots employed with the eastern Caribbean airline, LIAT, have reported sick for duty forcing cancellations or rescheduling of flights. The action by the pilots follows the airline's decision to terminate the services of Captain Michael Blackburn with immediate effect on Monday.

Blackburn, who is also the president of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association, confirmed to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that he had received a termination letter from the airline, but was not in a position to discuss it.

Last month, media reports said that Blackburn was being investigated by local aviation authorities for a recent safety violation at the George F. Charles Airport in St Lucia.

Blackburn, whose aircraft was second in line to land, allegedly ignored instructions from air traffic controllers at the airport, forcing the aircraft that was number one to land to take emergency measures, a source close to the investigation told CMC on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

LIAT and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority were also investigating the matter.

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