UNDILUTED pays tribute to John Maxwell by featuring two previous columns by him from the Hot Calaloo UNDILUTED archives:
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a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.
Jamaican ‘African legend’, Dudley Thompson is dead
One of Jamaica’s most inspiring heroes has died. Dudley Thompson, not just a hero to Jamaica, but to black people everywhere died in New York recently at the age of 95. He was a pioneer in championing black pride, Marcus Garvey, and pan-Africanism. Ghana showed their appreciation of his work by declaring him a 'Legend of Africa'. His accomplishments were indeed legendary.
He assembled the international legal team that defended Jomo Kenyatta in his trial after he had been seized by the British colonialists in 1952 and subsequently charged with treason, accused of being an instigator of the Mau Mau rebellion. Later as President of Kenya, Kenyatta memorably placed his hand on Thompson sitting beside him and said: "This man saved my life." In Tanzania, where he was a friend of Julius Nyerere, Thompson is remembered as a founder of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).
In the mid-1950s he returned to Jamaica, and continued to educate people about furthering the links between Africa and the Caribbean. He practised law in Trinidad, Barbados, St. Kitts, Dominica, Bermuda, Grenada, The Bahamas, Belize and elsewhere in the West Indies, playing a role in the independence movements of both Belize and the Bahamas. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1963.
He served as a member of the Jamaican Senate from 1962 to 1978, and a member of the House of Representatives from 1978 to 1983. In the People's National Party (PNP) administration under Prime Minister Michael Manley, he was Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (1972-7), Minister of Mining and Natural Resources (1977-8), and Minister of National Security and Justice (1978-80). He was also a vice-president and later chairman of the PNP.
Dudley Thompson was actually born in Panama, was raised in Westmoreland, Jamaica, and was a student at Mico. After a short period as headmaster of a rural school, he joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War - one of Britain's first black pilots - and saw active service (1941-5) as a flight lieutenant in Bomber Command over Europe, being awarded several decorations.
He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship obtaining degrees Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University. From his university days he was a close associate of pan-Africanists such as Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore and C.L.R. James. After becoming a barrister, Thompson went on to practise law in Africa - in Tanganyika and Kenya, where he became involved in the nationalist movements.
Dudley Thompson represented Jamaica in many international forums, including the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). In 1992 he was empanelled as a member of the Eminent Persons Group charged with implementing the movement for reparations for slavery to Africa and the African diaspora, under the auspices of the OAU. Thompson was a recipient of the Order of Jamaica, among other honours. Thompson was appointed Ambassador and High Commissioner to several African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia and Sierra Leone.
US Congress and Senate seek sanctions against Antigua
The US has successfully imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Now the US
Congress and Senate are coming after Antigua and Barbuda. Ten US
Representatives recently introduced a Congressional Resolution calling for
sanctions to be levied against the eastern Caribbean territory. This
December 23, 2011 resolution follows the one introduced December 8 in the
Senate. These issues relate to the Allen Stanford ponzi scheme that was
based in Antigua, and Half Moon Bay land acquisition by the Antiguan
government, both scandals which the US Congressmen piloting the two
resolutions say disenfranchised US investors.
Resolutions call for:
Backers of the resolutions include Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Representatives John Culberson and Pete Sessions, all of Texas; Representatives Jeff Boustany and Bill Cassidy, both of Louisiana; Representative Jo Bonner of Alabama; Representative John Duncan of Tennessee; Representative Greg Harper of Mississippi; and Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri.
Haiti PM Garry Conille resigns after months in office
Haiti Prime Minister Garry Conille has resigned from office, giving in to political pressure from President Michel Martelly to step down.
For days, Conille, a former UN diplomat and gynecologist, had been under pressure to step down, with presidential advisers delivering the request in person. On Thursday, rumors circulated that Martelly would formally ask for Conille’s resignation in a letter.
The international community, influential business leaders and top Haitian politicians had been scrambling for days to prevent a political confrontation that could lead to the ouster of Conille just four months after he took office. But all their efforts failed.
The presidents of both the lower chamber of Parliament and the Senate told diplomats and Conille that they were opposed to the ouster, and feared that it would deepen the crisis in Haiti. But others say that with the president and prime minister unable to see eye-to-eye, Haiti was facing a crisis of governance.
Conille and Martelly have been at loggerheads over issues of the nationality of government officials — including that Martelly has an American passport — an investigation of $300 million in post-earthquake contracts and who controls government ministers.
Though negotiations have been taking place for days over Conille’s replacement, observers say there is no telling when Haiti will get a working government. It took five months for Conille to be appointed as prime minister, and he was Martelly’s third choice. Already names are being circulated, all three of them close to the president.
There is no guarantee that any of those choices will be approved by the Parliament, which has been at odds with the president since his May 14, 2010, inauguration.
Jamaica resumes banana exports
Jamaica Producers Group (JPG) resumed the export of bananas in December 2011 but says its markets will be limited to countries in the Caribbean that do not grow the fruit.
JPG had ceased the exporting the centuries-old traditional crop four years ago, but continued producing bananas - formerly the island's third-largest export crop - for local consumption in green and ripened form, and for the manufacture of chips.
JPG is shipping bananas to the high-income market of the Cayman Islands in an initial launch into other non-banana producing islands. Shipments to Cayman would amount to about 20,000 boxes of the fruit. Unfortunately, It will create no new jobs, but but utilises existing resources.
Banana exports, currently documented at nil in official trade data, slashed some 400 jobs following its cessation in 2008 after losing the banana trade war and the decimation of fields by hurricanes since about 2004. JPG mainly exported bananas to the United Kingdom up to 2008.
Jamaicans consumed 100,000 tons or more than three times the 32,000 tonnes of bananas sold to foreign markets in 2006.
Grenada vows to keep airport open amid Taiwan loan quarrel
Grenada is seeking to raise funds to keep cash-strapped Maurice Bishop International Airport open, according to Information Minister Glen Noel. The possibility of operations grinding to a halt hung over the airport after airlines began withholding payments to the authority in keeping with a United States (US) court order that blocks foreign payments to Grenada. The order taken out in New York by Taiwan seeks to seize funds due to Grenada as compensation for outstanding loans of EC$70 million that St Georges is reluctant to pay.
The airport has, so far, lost US$500,000 in under a month in payments withheld by American Airlines, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.
The government is adamant that the financial requirement needed for the operations of the airport will be provided adequately and on a timely basis. "We have been raising the money to give to the authority to ensure that the airport remains open", says Grenada's Attorney General Rohan Phillip and is fighting the "strange order" in court.
Taipei has refused to intervene in the matter, saying its export-import bank was a statutory body, and that it no longer enjoyed diplomatic relations with Grenada. Grenada broke off diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of mainland China in 2005.
Last November, the Grenadian information minister confirmed that under the terms of the US court order, fees payable to the government by cruise lines calling at St George's were being deposited in a special account in the US to satisfy the debt between Grenada and Taiwan.
Major oil refinery to close in US Virgin Islands
The livelihood of 2,00 workers in the US Virgin Islands are bound to take a nose dive as one of the world's largest oil refineries located there will close next month. The company’s announcement has stunned the islands and threatens to upend the already reeling economy of the US Virgin Islands.
Industry analysts said the closure is unlikely to have a major effect on the global oil market, but Governor John de Jongh described the loss of the territory's largest private employer as "a complete body blow" for the US territory of about 108,000 people.
He said Hovensa generated a minimum of US$60 million a year in revenue for the government, which recently laid off hundreds of public workers due to a budget crisis.
Losses at Hovensa, a joint venture of US-based Hess Corp and Venezuela's state-owned oil company, have totalled US$1.3 billion over the past three years and were projected to continue due to reduced demand caused by the global economic slowdown and increased refining capacity in emerging markets, said Brian K. Lever, president and chief operating officer of Hovensa LLC.
Hovensa was the third-largest US refinery before it cut its capacity of 500,000 barrels by 30 per cent last year. It is now the eighth largest, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The refinery dominates the southern coast of St Croix, where hundreds of workers live in company-built neighborhoods.
‘Baby Doc’ escapes real punishment
The mystery of why former Haitian dictator, Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier risked imprisonment by returning to Haiti is over. It is obvious that he knew beforehand that friends in high places would protect him.
A Haitian magistrate has cleared Mr. Duvalier of well-documented violations, including extra-judicial killings, torture and disappearances, during his bloody reign from 1971 to 1986. The magistrate, Carves Jean, said the statute of limitations blocked prosecution of the human rights crimes, and he ruled that Mr. Duvalier should face trial only on corruption charges.
The victims of ‘Baby Doc’ include hundreds of political prisoners tortured and sometimes lost in Fort Dimanche and two other notorious prisons collectively known as "the triangle of death." They include those beaten and exiled for crossing Mr. Duvalier and his henchmen. And they include countless others subjected to arbitrary arrests, prolonged jailings and murders at the hands of security forces and shadowy militias loyal to Mr. Duvalier.
The court’s decision is a judicial travesty. It is a fist in the face of thousands of Haitian victims and a statement of contempt for international standards of justice, under which the country had a clear obligation to hold Mr. Duvalier to account. The ruling was made with the apparent blessing of President Michel Martelly, sort of like how Obama ignored the war crimes of George Bush. A number of Mr. Martelly’s allies and ministers have close ties to the Duvalier dictatorship, and the president has devoted himself to airbrushing the old tyrant’s misdeeds since Mr. Duvalier, 60, surprised the world by returning to Haiti a year ago, after a 25-year exile in France. Mr. Martelly has included Mr. Duvalier at official functions, allowed him to ignore an order of house arrest and minimized the horrific crimes of the past.
The victims can appeal the judge’s decision and Amnesty International has vowed to continue supporting their search for justice.
Romney would veto DREAM Act
Caribbean organizations and other immigrant groups have been strong advocates for the Dream Act. Now United States Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has declared that he would veto the Dream Act legislation that would allow certain illegal residents to become American citizens.
The most recent version of the DREAM Act would have provided a route to legal status for immigrants who were brought to the United States before age 16, have lived in the country for five years, graduated from high school or gained an equivalency degree, and who joined the military or attended college.
It targeted the most sympathetic of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States - those brought to the country as children, and who in many cases consider themselves American, speak English and have no ties to their native countries.
Democrats immediately seized on Romney's remarks. "Wrong on principle and politics," David Axelrod, the Obama campaign's top political adviser wrote on Twitter in response. The Democratic National Committee called Romney's stance "appalling" in a written statement.
Bus problem in Jamaica
Like any big city in the world, traffic is a nightmare in Kingston, Jamaica too. The only solution to the traffic choked streets is good public transportation, which Jamaica is struggling to provide. This struggle was made more difficult recently as a number of buses were forced off their routes in need of repairs.
A shortage of tires and the absence of road-worthy windscreens has forced the state-owned Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) to pull at least 40 buses from the streets. The JUTC normally deploys an average of 300 buses to service routes in The Kingston Metropolitan Area daily.
Recent cuts in the JUTC budget by the Government from J$600 million to J$450 million is blamed. Also the company is only allowed to charge J$80 for adult fares, which is J$50 less than the fare recommended by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).
Gap widens between Latin American and Caribbean economies
While economies in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to struggle
in the midst of the world economic downturn, the countries of South and
Central America are growing at quadruple the pace of the Caribbean.
Antigua's PM Bird blasts WI Cricket Board
WI cricket is in a mess. The team cannot beat even a drum. The West Indies Cricket Board has banned indefinitely one of the world’s best batsman from the team, Jamaica’s Chris Gayle.
When Jamaica’s new PM Portia Simpson-Miller spoke out about it she was reprimanded disrespectfully by the board. But, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Lester Bird, Prime Minister deplored the disrespectful response of the WICB to Portia and did not mince words on the performance of the WICB.
Bird, a former member of the Board, was scorching as he blasted the WICB, describing it as incompetent and West Indies cricket a farce. He charged that Jamaica was being punished for the impasse between Gayle and the WICB. And it seemed that they decided to punish Jamaica for its decision to pick Gayle for national duty.
"I want to make a call for the reinstatement of Chris Gayle. As
far as I am concerned, he is more valuable to our cricket that Julian
Hunte, Dr Ernest Hilaire, Otis Gibson and Darren Sammy, singly and
collectively," he charged.
And probably the most important statement he made: "We must maximise the power of cricket as an integrating force and use it to bind us as Caribbean people, not divide us."
ICC 'condemns' Guyana gov't intervention
Cricket's world governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), has condemned the Guyana government's takeover of cricket in that country and has re-emphasised its stance against political interference in the running of the sport. The ICC also said it was 'concerned' by the current impasse and threw its support behind the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), which has continued to back the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB).
Guyana's government assumed control of cricket administration there through an Interim Management Committee last year, after the GCB had its legitimacy challenged in the High Court and was declared a legal non-entity.
"The ICC Board reiterates the principle of non-interference in the sport by governments and was concerned to learn of the developments in Guyana where the government has dissolved the Guyana Cricket Board and replaced it with an Interim Management Committee (IMC)," an ICC statement said recently.
St Lucia businessmen fear unfair competition from China
Remember the US fear that, "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming"? Well in St Lucia, businessmen there fear, "The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!"
The St Lucia Manufacturers and Small Business Association have complained bitterly that the Chinese were taking over the sub-regional market and gaining an unfair advantage. In the previous month, St Lucian business leaders called on Eastern Caribbean heads, at their summit in Castries, to address what they considered to be a growing concern for small entrepreneurs.
The head of the St Lucia manufacturers' group, Paula Calderon, has argued that Chinese businesses threatened the economic stability of the entire OECS stating that, "This is a trend that is affecting small businesses given the fact that the Chinese have vast resources available to them at home, including the assistance of their government and it's on that basis that we consider the practice unfair trading".
Reacting to entrepreneurs' complaints that the influx of Chinese businesses was posing a threat to their survival, St Lucia's foreign minister Alva Baptiste said on Monday that his government would help local entrepreneurs become more competitive rather than give them protection.
Of the six independent member nations of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis and St Vincent & the Grenadines have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, while the other three, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Dominica are linked to China.
The minister also dismissed a recommendation from the small businesses that St. Lucia should factor in competition from Chinese businesses as it reaches a decision on whether to re-establish ties with Beijing.
New UN report on the ravages of crime in the Caribbean
One of the major findings of a new study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has confirmed that crime is having a devastating impact on the economies of Jamaica and other Caribbean states.
According to UNDP Caribbean Human Development Report 2012, launched in Trinidad recently:
Some disturbing stats
Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 8.5 percent of the world population, yet the region accounts for some 27 percent of the world’s homicides. Even though the total number of murders in Jamaica dropped after the report’s completion to 1,124 in 2011, a seven-year low, the country has the highest homicide rate in the Caribbean and the third-highest murder rate worldwide in recent years, with about 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. This is surpassed by only two Central American countries, El Salvador and Honduras with 66 and 82.1 murders respectively per 100,000 people says the report, citing UN Office on Drugs and Crime figures. In Trinidad and Tobago, the report notes that murder rates increased five-fold over a decade, to more than 40 per 100,000 in 2008, and then declined to 36 in 2010.
Smoke from landfill fire covers sections of Kingston
Recently sections of the Kingston, Jamaica were covered with thick smog as noxious fumes emanated from a large fire at the Riverton landfill. The fire burned for more than four days despite attempts to put it out. The Riverton landfill is situated close to a number of middle-income communities in the Kingston 20 area. The perennial problem of fires at the landfill is not only a nuisance and health risk to residents, but drives down property values.
Irked by the recurring problem of fires at the landfill and the health risks and nuisance posed to residents in surrounding communities, Public Defender Earl Witter has cautioned that the matter was not only a "civil wrong", but could attract criminal sanctions.
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) said the fire at the dump was creating an environmental and public-health problem in a wide area of the city.
Stephen Marley wins Grammy
Stephen Marley, son of reggae icon Bob Marley, has won the Grammy Award in Best Reggae Album category at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Marley's album, Revelation Part 1: Root of Life, which is largely unknown in Jamaica, beat four rivals in the Best Reggae Album category which included sibling Ziggy Marley, jazz pianist Monty Alexander, Rastafari duo Israel Vibration, and Shaggy. According to sources, Marley did not attend the award ceremony and is in Jamaica working in the studio.
The Marley family has dominated the Best Reggae Album category since its inception in 1985. Ziggy and a younger brother, Damian 'Junior Gong Marley' have both won the category twice.
The Reggae Grammy was first introduced in 1985. Originally, the category was called Best Reggae Recording. That year Black Uhuru won the Sly and Robbie-produced Anthem.
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