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bulletLibyan Investments in Caribbean Under Threat
bulletBarbados creates problems for CARICOM
bulletT&T govt. Minister fired
bulletCommonwealth risks irrelevance
bullet'Eat Jamaican' campaign
bulletAntigua and Barbuda imposes temporary ban on agri produce
bulletThe high cost of crime in Jamaica
bulletIMF ‘help’ obstructing Jamaica
bulletWhole Foods promotes Haitian mangoes
bulletUS opens eight gateways to Cuba
bulletLearning center battles illiteracy in Jamaica
bulletNew US guestworker rules proposed
bulletDeportees from the US
bulletJamaica passenger train rolls into Spanish Town for test run
bulletFloods cause big crop losses in Barbados
bulletVolunteers flock YUTE scheme in Jamaica
bulletChinese embassy donates agricultural equipment to Grenada
bulletIllegal mines shut down in Guyana
bulletHaitian lawmakers vote to allow dual nationality
bulletCuban tourism up by 14.7 percent in first two months of 2011

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.



May 2011

Libyan Investments in Caribbean Under Threat

NATO bombs that are falling on Tripoli are also hurting Caribbean natrions. Although located about 6,000 miles from the North African country of Libya, the turmoil there has not left the leaders of some small Caribbean nations unscathed. Member states of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have adopted their own lines of engagement with Libya. The main concern - what will become of Libyan investment projects in region?

"Whether we like it or not, we’re still very much dependent on oil from the Middle East and most of our economies are driven by that," said Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda. "To the extent that there is instability and war and so on, it has an impact."

As leaders of the OECS member states anxiously await the outcome of several negotiated agreements with Libya - including the opening of a Libyan embassy in St. Lucia and a bank in St. Kitts - Spencer admitted that he is nervously watching developments in the North African country.

Many of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ major development projects in recent years have benefited from Libyan funding. Gonsalves defends his government’s receipt of the aid. According to the prime minister, the 250,000 dollars handed over to the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) by Libya’s ambassador to the OECS, Ammat Ali, in February are to aid with rebuilding the country after the damage wrought by Hurricane Tomas last year.

In nearby Dominica, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reiterated his government’s position that Dominica will not break ties with Libya because of the ongoing political turmoil.

"Why should we terminate relations with Libya," said Skerrit, who also questioned the opposition’s call for him to simply review his existing relationship with Tripoli.

The same stance has been taken by Prime Minister Stephenson King of St. Lucia, who said while his government is monitoring developments in Libya, they were not severing diplomatic relations. St Lucia’s Foreign Minister Rufus Bousquet says the march to democracy in the Middle East and North Africa is likely to impact on investment projects in the OECS sub-region. "St. Lucia was right in the middle, among other countries in the OECS as a sub-regional grouping, and we were well on our way to establishing, certainly with Libya, an investment bank and investment fund both of which were funded to the tune of 100 million dollars from the Libyan Government," Bousquet says.

Grenada has also found itself in a similar position - that of anxiously awaiting financial aid. Last year, the government of Grenada announced that it was expecting a grant of 1.9 million dollars from Libya for public works projects, in addition to expecting Libya to forgive a 6 million dollar debt.

In 2001 some Caribbean leaders visited Libya in search of technical and monetary aid to help modernise their agricultural sectors. That visit was arranged because of a dip in aid from the United States and Britain.

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Barbados creates problems for CARICOM

In circumstances now well known and documented, a bitter dispute erupted between Barbados and Jamaica over the treatment by Barbadian immigration officials of a young Jamaican woman on her arrival at Grantley Adams International Airport. Her case subsequently led to similar and worse allegations being made by others, which, apart from their shocking nature, ought to raise questions about just how serious certain Caribbean governments are doing about xenophobia which could undercut popular sentiment about regionalism

So serious has this become that Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding warned that such developments suggest that the movement towards the CSME is at risk from the actions of member countries of Caricom. Golding affirmed that allegations were "not a matter that is new" in Caricom.

"As recently as the Caricom heads of government meeting in Grenada, the prime minister of St Vincent made complaints about the treatment of his nationals when they arrive in Barbados, and at the meeting before that, a similar complaint was made by the president of Guyana," he told Barbados' Starcom radio network.

"The deputy prime minister (of Jamaica) will confirm that at almost every heads of government meeting, the matter is raised," Golding said. He added, "We must be very careful not to allow an incident, no matter how deplorable or despicable it is reported to be, to undermine the regional integration movement."

This is the human side, but in recent months, the dysfunctional nature of the regional integration process has been matched by developments that in their own context are just as troubling. Caricom heads have been no more successful in identifying a new secretary general.

Speculation now centers on the appointment of a head of state or prominent Caribbean figure from outside the region. However, it is hard to see, without a binding and sustained commitment by all heads to a structural change in Caricom's role in regional governance, how any significant successor to Sir Edwin Carrington will find the post attractive enough to take on.

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T&T govt. Minister fired

Trindiad and Tobago Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has found that Minister Mary King had "acted improperly in failing to disclose her interest and disqualify herself from the entire process" regarding the award of a $100,000 contract. The attorney general’s findings led to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar advising President George Maxwell Richards to revoke the appointments of King as Minister of Planning, Economic and Social Restructuring and Gender Affairs, as well as a Government Senator with immediate effect.

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Commonwealth risks irrelevance

THE 54-member British Commonwealth is at risk of becoming irrelevant, according to an assessment of the latest meeting of a ten-member Eminent Persons Group (EMG). The subject is expected to be a major agenda issue for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference scheduled for October this year in Australia.

It is reported that significant recommendations for reform have been advanced to help transform the association into one that is fit for a rapidly changing world.

A dozen countries of the Caribbean Community are members of Commonwealth, which held its last summit in November 2009 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. It was hosted by then Prime Minister Patrick Manning and current chairman, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is scheduled to pass the baton to Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard.

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'Eat Jamaican' campaign

Jamaica has launched an 'Eat Jamaican' campaign promoting the message 'Grow what we eat - Eat what we grow'. The campaign is aimed at increasing local production and encouraging consumers to make healthy choices by eating local produce, fruits and vegetables. It was launched by the minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr Christopher Tufton on March 1 and had its first show in Mandeville, Manchester, on March 30. A series of nine roadshows that have been scheduled over a three-month period. Partners for the roadshow, Wisynco, Jamaica Broilers and Trade Winds, ensured that those present had a chance to sample quality Jamaican products, while there were giveaways courtesy of National Bakery and Island Grill.
Tufton told the media that the campaign offers economic and health opportunities for Jamaicans.
"Firstly, it puts people to work. There are hundreds and thousands of farm families that depend on agriculture to survive, rural life depends on agriculture. So you have 200,000 farmers, a family of four or five, you could have 800,000 to a million people who depend on it," said Tufton.
He added: "Secondly, local is fresh, and local, more often than not, is healthier than imported, because when you talk about local you're talking about things that just came out of the ground or just reaped. Eating fresh is healthier, our root crops, our vegetables have much better nutritional content."
The minister revealed that a study conducted by his ministry showed that 45 per cent of Jamaica's food import bill can be replaced by locally produced food.
The campaign is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and supported by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority.

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Antigua and Barbuda imposes temporary ban on agri produce

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has imposed a temporary ban on the importation of several agricultural produce because of a glut in local production. According to the government, the ban, which is in place initially for this month, has been imposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment as part of efforts to promote and support the purchasing of locally grown products.

The produce on the temporary importation ban include onion, cabbage, carrot, sweet pepper, eggplant, tomato, cucumber, and butternut squash. Importers of these fresh produce have been encouraged to contact Central Marketing Corporation, which is the major marketing agent for these vegetables in Antigua.

The ministry has also repeated its encouragement to Antiguans to buy local as part of a drive to reduce the importation of agricultural goods and services into Antigua and Barbuda.

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The high cost of crime in Jamaica

World Development Report 2011 shows Jamaica paying dearly

The criminal violence which has affected Jamaica for decades has again been identified as the primary development challenge facing the country. The World Bank now estimates that crime and violence costs Jamaica more than US$400 million (J$34 billion) each year. In the 2011 World Development Report, dubbed 'Conflict, Security and Development', the bank includes Jamaica among the countries where growth is being stymied by crime. According to the report, while wars between states are less now than in the past and civil wars fewer, insecurity has become the primary development challenge of our time.

"One and a half billion people live in areas affected by fragility, conflict, or large-scale, organised criminal violence, and no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single United Nations Millennium Development Goal (UN MDG)," the report claimed.

The report also stated that:

bulletNew threats - organised crime and trafficking, civil unrest due to global economic shocks, terrorism - have supplemented continued preoccupation with conventional war between and within countries.
bulletThe indirect cost associated with crime and violence, stress and trauma, time off from work because of violent incidents, and lower productivity from injury or mental illness far overshadows direct costs.
bulletThe direct medical cost of all interpersonal violence in Jamaica is estimated at US$29.5 million, while the indirect medical cost is US$385 million.
bulletWhen other indirect costs are added, such as those for policing, health care, private security, and reduced investment, the figures are even more staggering.
bulletEstimates suggest that if Haiti and Jamaica reduced their crime levels to those of Costa Rica, they could increase annual GDP growth by 5.4 percentage points.

The World Bank report also noted that Jamaica's inner cities have been at the center of the country's crime and violence problem which, coupled with growing poverty, has further exacerbated social fragmentation and the weakness of civic organising in inner-city communities. In a general prescription which seems specially tailored for a very ill Jamaica, the World Bank argued that there is a need to break down what is referred to locally as "garrison" communities and put an end to corruption to get broad-based support for change.

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IMF ‘help’ obstructing Jamaica

Here we go again. The IMF medicine is hurting the patient. New IMF policies have  damaged Jamaica’s recent and current economic prospects. A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that Jamaica’s economic and social progress has suffered considerably from the burden of an unsustainable debt; and that, even after the debt restructuring of 2010, this burden remains unsustainable and very damaging.

"Jamaica is a clear case where the IMF and other international actors have put the economy in a strait-jacket," said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "Jamaica needs debt cancellation and economic stimulus to get out of its long slump, and it has not gotten either of these."
The paper, "Jamaica: Macroeconomic Policy, Debt and the IMF," by Jake Johnston and Juan Antonio Montecino, notes that the IMF program focuses on containing the wage bill, even though this can have negative consequences for a developing country that needs to increase spending on health and education. Curbs on the wage bill have put pressure on Jamaica’s struggling healthcare sector, creating uncertainty surrounding the treatment and payment of healthcare workers.

The paper notes that Jamaica is one of the most highly indebted countries in the world, with a total public debt of 129.3 percent of GDP at the end of fiscal year 2009/10, and interest payments on the debt over the last five years averaging 13 percent of GDP. This debt burden has crowded out most other public investment, especially in education and infrastructure, which have stagnated over the last 18 years.

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Whole Foods markets Haitian mangoes

Kudos to Whole Foods! Haiti's king of fruit – the Francis mango – is taking the throne at Whole Foods Market. For a limited time, shoppers will find this exclusive, organic and Fair Trade Certified fruit under the grocer's Whole Trade program. The Whole Trade Guarantee – which drives meaningful dollars into the struggling Haitian economy – ensures that these rare, delicious mangoes are ethically grown and sourced. Whole Foods Market is the sole buyer of certified organic and Fair Trade Certified mangoes from small Haitian growers, sometimes buying from a family with just one tree. Shoppers can find these mangoes in US stores nationwide under the grocer's Whole Trade program during the varietal's short six-to-eight week season.

Whole Foods Market supports positive change in the developing countries where it sources products. The program ensures exceptional quality, a safe and healthy working environment and the peace-of-mind that those foods are produced using environmental practices that promote biodiversity and healthy soils.
Many Haitian mango growers have only one or two trees, and with the season being a short period from late April to early June, equitable pay is crucial to assist these growers year-round. Whole Foods Market's on-the-ground exporter, Perry Exports, is the key driving force organizing the grower groups to achieve and maintain Fair Trade and organic certifications. Fair Trade certification guarantees a fair price to growers. These certifications increase transparency and market value which drives better returns for grower

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US opens eight gateways to Cuba

Eight airports, including Atlanta and Chicago's O'Hare, have gained federal approval to schedule charter flights to and from Cuba, opening new gateways for Cuban-Americans to visit relatives in the island nation and for other limited travel, authorities announced Tuesday.

United States (US) Customs and Border Protection officials said such charter flights can now be scheduled from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport, as well as Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and international airports in Baltimore, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Previously, such flights were only allowed from Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

The decision to add airports comes as part of an expanded effort to reach out to the Cuban people, announced by US President Barack Obama earlier this year.

In Atlanta, airport officials lauded the decision and said it will mean reunions for families and friends who have been separated for years by distance and politics.

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Learning center battles illiteracy in Jamaica

Established in May 2009, the Middleton/Redlight/Irish Town (MRI) Learning Centre is the evolution of a plan for social empowerment that started in the mind of Constable Mark Tomlinson many years ago. Fittingly located on the grounds of Irish Town Police Station, the center serves residents well beyond the confines of the three communities after which it is named.

The center's mission is to confront and conquer illiteracy through the use of creative and effective tools, technologies, methods and programs. The literacy program involves one-on-one assistance as well as structured lessons throughout the week. In addition to taking advantage of computer programs, students are allowed access to a library of diverse reading material under the guidance of caring staff who promote not just reading, but also the enjoyment of reading.

Equipped with computers, courtesy of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), which also provided funding for teaching assistants and a center manager, along with complimentary Internet service, courtesy of telecommunications company LIME, the center is open from noon until 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., basic-school students get help with homework and reading, while pre-GSAT students are schooled in math, English and homework assistance.

During this period, adults are also taught to read and given basic computer lessons, leading to knowledge of information technology. It is by design that all lessons are taught on the computer.

The computer literacy program seeks to prepare youth and adults to use computers and the Internet effectively in advancing themselves academically, professionally and beyond.

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New US guestworker rules proposed

Every year, thousands of workers come to the United States via the H-2B guestworker (farmworker) visa program. Under this program, a workers' visa is tied to his or her employer, giving their bosses a great deal of control over their lives. All too often, workers in the US on the H-2B visa find themselves in unfair, unsafe, or even illegal work situations, but because their immigration status is tied to their employer, it is very difficult to organize for better working conditions.

On March 17, 2011, the National Guestworker Alliance won a major victory and a vindication of five years of organizing, advocacy, and litigation as the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed new regulations of the H-2B non-agricultural visa program. The proposed regulations would ensure that workers in the U.S. through this program are not trapped in debt to recruiters and do not face retaliation for organizing to become members of workers’ centers or unions.  The new regulations would also ensure that employers keep their promises to workers about the type of work, working conditions, and hours they will have, and that if they break the rules they are punished.

However, predictably big businesses are gearing up to fight these new rules that would protect workers’ rights.

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Deportees from the US

For the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic received the most US criminal deportees, some 1,066. They were followed by Jamaica which has received 528 since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2011. Trinidad and Tobago was third with 125 followed by Belize with 74, the Bahamas with 65 and Guyana with 64. So far this fiscal year, 50 migrants have been sent back to Aruba and 31 to the earth-quake ravaged Haiti. Other Caribbean nations received far less criminal deportees.

Cuba received 20 in the past six months; Barbados was sent 11; Dominica 10; St. Lucia seven and Antigua five. Bermuda has received four criminal migrants since last October while St. Kitts received 3; Suriname, the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands, 2 each, and Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos, one each.

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Jamaica passenger train  roll into Spanish Town for test run

Excited residents of Spanish Town, St Catherine, Jamaica,  witnessed the first set of Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) coaches roll into the Old Capital ahead of this weekend's test run for a return to the passenger train system.

Meanwhile, chairman of the JRC, Barry Bonitto, said the train was coming to assist with the movement of passengers from Spanish Town to Linstead.

"We intend to start operations from Spanish Town to Linstead within a month. We are going to have a test run from May Pen to Linstead on Saturday, with the transport minister and others, " Bonitto said.

He said that a total of 68 passengers can be seated in each of the six coaches.

"A total of 40 people would gain direct employment as brakesmen, ticketing agents and engineers when the train restarts," he also said.

Many persons said they were looking forward to seeing how the train would improve travel for the public. At the same time, however, taxi operators plying the Linstead to Spanish Town route expressed concern about the effects the new development would have on their business.

The train service began in Jamaica in 1845 and underwent several changes until it came to a halt in 1992.

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Floods cause big crop losses in Barbados

Farmers have been left with flooded fields, damaged crops and profits washed down the drain after heavy rains over the past few weeks.
From St Lucy to St Philip, tons of onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and watermelons lay destroyed in the fields as some farmers faced financial crisis and bleak futures.
Freddy Gale, of Gale’s Agro Products in Mangrove, St Philip, told the Nation Newspaper that about a tenth of the 20 tons of onions drying in the fields were either washed away or destroyed, leaving them thousands of dollars out of pocket.

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Volunteers flock YUTE scheme in Jamaica

A NUMBER of persons have offered their services to help provide guidance to youths of eight troubled communities across Kingston, Jamaica who are part of the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) program. The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica had made several appeals for volunteers in the program so that it could meet the 800 target.

But head of the project management team for YUTE Maureen Webber reported that while the targeted number is not yet reached, the responses are encouraging.

"It is really very heartening to know that Jamaicans are really stepping up and volunteering," she said.

Webber added that some 220 persons have already signed up to help mentor the youths. These persons will first be engaged in training sessions.

There are seven companies in place that Webber said her organisation would be visiting to speak to the staff about becoming part of the mentorship program. Webber added that by the end of April, the YUTE program should have about 400 mentors to assist the youths.

But that is not the only good news for the program as there have been successes in the placement of the youths in suitable jobs, most of who are in long-term positions.

YUTE a private-sector initiative, which currently has 825 participants, was officially launched last month and is aimed at tackling the root causes of crime and unemployment among young people.

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Chinese embassy donates agricultural equipment to Grenada

On April 29, 2011, the official hand-over ceremony of farm machinery and agricultural equipment, donated to Grenada by the Chinese government, was held in La Sagesse Farm, St David.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas expressed his appreciation for the donations and aid from the Chinese government to Grenada. He spoke of the Agricultural Technical Cooperation Program between China and Grenada, saying that the program has made a contribution to creating better environment for agricultural production, improving agricultural technology level and expanding the scale of agricultural production. The prime minister also encouraged local farmers to learn advanced technology from the Chinese agricultural specialists.
Three small tractors, fourteen walking tractors and other various farm machinery and agricultural equipment were handed over to the government of Grenada

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Illegal mines shut down in Guyana

The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has closed down 14 illegal gold mining operations in the Omai area, Essequibo, in an ongoing campaign to curb a problem of widespread  "raiding" of gold bearing, unoccupied State lands.
Major General (Rtd) Joe Singh, who is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the GGMC, disclosed that the campaign will continue, even as efforts are made to regularise occupation of these lands.
"There has to be some semblance of respect for law and order. People just cannot do as they please," he said, addressing a meeting of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Thursday. 

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Haitian lawmakers vote to allow dual nationality

Haitians living overseas will now have more rights in their homeland. Haitian lawmakers recently amended an article in the old constitution that will do away with a law that bans dual nationality. That means the 2 million Haitians living in the United States, Canada and elsewhere will have more say in the political affairs of Haiti. They are now able to run for lower levels of office and own land, a senator said.

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Cuban tourism up by 14.7 percent in 1st two months of 2011

The number of tourists arriving in Cuba continued its steady growth in February, 2011, following the trend set in January, when it grew by over 15 percent. The Cuban National Statistics Office announced that over a million people visited Cuba in the first two months of 2011. In February, 292,332 tourists visited the island, for a 34.2 percent increase over the 2007 figure. Last year, over 2.5 million people travelled to Cuba and the expectation for 2011 is to surpass the 4 percent growth the sector experienced in 2010.
The Cuban tourism ministry has launched several advertising campaigns targeting old and new markets like Canada, the largest one, the Scandinavian countries and Russia.

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