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From June  Hot Calaloo update



August 2001

Partisanship, loyalty and politics

Menace to their countries
The first loyalty of any citizen is to their country, not their political party. Any leader who is willing to destroy directly or indirectly his country for the sake of political gain, does not deserve your loyalty.
Two such leaders exist in the Caribbean. Their policy is clear to destabilize their respective countries to rise to power on the burning remnants of the land they lust to rule. These two men are Edward Seaga, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party and Desmond Hoyte, leader of the Peoples National Congress of Guyana.

There is a popular misconception that regardless of what a politician does, to criticize him would be partisan. This thinking is not only nonsense but is dangerous. It is dangerous because it can shield a no-good politician from legitimate criticism.
 Hot Calaloo is non-partisan. However, this does not mean that we will sit idly by and allow some ruthless politician to destroy the country to further his political aims. Politics in the Caribbean is under some very difficult and trying circumstances. Politicians are not infallible. I expect them to make mistakes, errors in judgment, even blunders. But, these were not mistakes by Seaga and Hoyte. Mistakes we could forgive. But instead, they are cold, calculating, and deliberate means to power. And that we cannot forgive.

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More violence flares in  Jamaica

The violence which propelled Jamaica adversely unto the world stage from July 7 to 10 continues to smolder. On the week starting July 23, fear and panic have again gripped sections of the Hannah Town, Wilton Gardens (Rema) and Denham Town communities in Kingston's west end following another outbreak of gun violence which has claimed the lives of six more persons. At least it has not grown to the proportions as earlier in the month.

3 days of near-anarchy and mayhem
During those three ill-fated days, what started out as gang warfare in the slums of west Kingston spread. It soon became gun battles between security forces composed of the police and the military against defiant JLP gangs. When the three days were over:

  • 25 people were killed bringing the totals killed by gang fighting in the past two months to 47.
  • 40 more people were wounded by gunshot
  • police station was shot up and bombed
  • Jamaica tourism took a beating as US and Britain issued a tourist advisory to their citizens (since lifted thank God)
  • Estimate of the cost to private business and the government are as high as J$14 billion according to Michael Ammar, 1st vice president, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.

Commission of Enquiry
Meanwhile PM PJ Patterson has announced plans to set up a Comission of Enquiry to investigate the riots. Mr. Seaga has declared that his participation in this commission will depend on his criteria of impartiality of the other members.

Seaga plays the "don"
The nickname of JLP leader eddie Seaga is the "Don". This name was demonstrated to be alarmingly appropriate as "Don" is the title of the gang lords. What started out as a battle betwee rival political gangs exploded in a battle between JLP gangs and, not PNP gangs, but against the security forces comprised of Jamaica Constabulary and Jamaica military. The "Don" Seaga could have called off his JLP gangs, but chose to give ultimatums instead such as  "fire the head of the crime fighting unit".

JLP official help police restore order
In contrast to JLP leader, Eddie Seaga, their own spokesman on Security issues, Derrick Smith, was quick to help police restore order in Spanish Town. When Spanish Town erupted with JLP supporters announcing that they were locking down the old capital until the security forces moved out of Tivoli. Senior Superintendent of Police Harry Daley, head of the St. Catherine North Division called Mr. Smith for assistance. Within five minutes the call was returned and was assured that the road blocks were cleared and even the roads were swept!
Let us hope that Derrick Smith will not be punished by his party for putting the welfare of Jamaica ahead of the ruthless political ambitions of Eddie Seaga,

Seaga continues to milk the unrest
To Washington DC Mr. Seaga went. Back he came claiming that while there, he had talks with three well known human rights organisations which were, "ready and willing to protect the citizens of Jamaica from injustice". Right!. "Three well known human rights organizations" but unnamed obviously because it can not be verified. It is very likely he did visit human rights organization to try to ensnare them in his political maneuver, but they saw through it and sent him packing. What human rights organization has the capability "to protect the citizens of Jamaica from injustice"? With all the human rights abuses around the world, I wish there were some human rights organization which could protect citizens. Even the UN can’t do that, but Mr. Seaga’s mystery organizations can.

How much longer will Mr. Seaga continue to milk this unrest. Will he fan the smoldering embers into a conflagration again. Will the JLP let him? Will the people of Jamaica let him? Seaga has got to go.

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US to boycott World Conference against Racism

The conference
World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance meets in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 7. It represents a unique opportunity to create a new world vision for the fight against racism in the twenty-first century.  Organized by the United Nations to mark the International Year - and the Third Decade - for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Conference will focus on practical steps to eradicate racism: how to ensure that international standards and instruments are applied in efforts to combat it and recommendations for further action against bias and intolerance.

The question of compensation for slavery will be one of the most controversial topics. Led by groups like Human Rights watch there is strong support for these reparations to counter the most severe continuing effects of slavery, segregation, and other extreme forms of racism.

"Groups that suffer today because of slavery or other severe racist practices should be compensated by governments responsible for these practices," said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. "Those most seriously victimized today by past wrongs should be the first priority for compensation to end their victimization."
Human Rights Watch said national and international panels should be created with maximum transparency and public participation to identify and acknowledge past abuses and to guide action to counter their present-day effect.

US threaten boycott if reparations on the agenda
But there is also strong opposition not only to reparations for slavery, but to that topic even being on the agenda. The leading opponent is the US, along with Britain and Canada. The Bush administration has threatened to boycott the conference if reparations is included. The absence of the United States would be a severe blow to the convention, which is being billed as the most important international discussion of race ever held. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among the organizations imploring Bush to send a delegation to the conference. Others include the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. 
UN officials have even met twice with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in February and June, and once with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice in February. At this time the US boycott seems very likely. Not coincidentally this important conference has been greeted with near silence in the media.

The same US which fought successfully for reparations from the German government and corporations to Jews enslaved in World War II oppose this now. Japanese Americans interred in camps here in the US received reparations and there are other precedents.. But, blacks who suffered over 300 years of slavery, followed by years systematic deliberate government enforced discrimination right here in the land of the free, the US, must see their just cause not even considered.

Slavery at its worst
Slavery has existed throughout time immemorial. Often captives of war were made slaves. Even today, there is the claim of slavery in the Sudan. But, the slavery that our forefathers endured was by far worse than any other, before or after. It was not just unpaid labour. It involved the dehumanization of a people to the status of animals. Other slaves at least were still considered humans by their slavemasters. And after slavery, the years of government enforced not just personal discrimination to deprive us of proper education, jobs, housing, justice, etc., some of which exist to this very day. For instance up til recently black farmers could not get credit from the federal bank. Read in the Wall Stret Journal, Monday July 17, 2001 how Alabama conspired with the mighty US Steel corporation to incarcerate black men on frivolous charges in order to provide free prison labour until late 1920’s.

The fact is the case for black reparations right here in the US is very strong. On the contrary, the arguments against are very weak. I think the real reason for the opposition is the severity of the problem. The damage done is so great, the number of people affected so numerous, and the duration of the injustice so long, that full compensation would literally bankrupt this mighty country. No one wants that, so full compensation is out. But, let there be reasonable compensation. It is a very complex and complicated problem. It is not just a question of "how much", but "how" and "who". But no compensation or denial is wrong and only perpetuates the injustice of slavery.

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CARICOM Secretary General re-appointed to 3rd term

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government have unanimously agreed to grant Edward Carrington a third 5-year term as CARICOM Secretary Gerneral. Carrington has built up an impressive record in the service of the region over some three decades.


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IMF praises T&T for strong economic performance

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has praised Trinidad and Tobago for its strong track record of economic performance in recent years, as evidenced by robust output growth, low inflation, and a strengthening of the external position. Output grew by just under five per cent in calendar 2000, inflation remained at about three and half per cent, and the balance of payments strengthened. Unemployment fell slightly, but remained high at 12.5 per cent at mid-2000). Indicators through the first quarter of 2001 suggest that economic performance continues to be favorable.

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Jamaica’s 3rd Party, NDM, gets new leader

Jamaica’s third political party, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), has elected a new leader. Moreover, the new leader is a woman, Hyacinth Bennett. She succeeds the founder of the party, Bruce Golding. She was elected by a landslide at the party’s 6th Annual conference. She has an uphill fight as the party has failed to get much voter support. It is this failure which forced previous president, a former vice-president of the JLP and once considered the heir-apparent to JLP leader Eddie Seaga, to resign.

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Cruise liner company pulls out

It seems Jamaica is not the only Caribbean country to lose cruise ship line because of unsatisfactory port experiences. This time a United States cruise-liner company has dropped Antigua and Barbuda from its list of destinations, resulting in a loss of over 6,000 visitors each month. The company, Holland America Lines, cited the unsatisfactory behaviour of taxi-drivers, uncertainty about dredging operations and unsatisfactory berthing facilities. But at least one taxi association on Tuesday rejected the allegations made public by Prime Minister Lester Bird based on talks he held with the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association (ABCTA).

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Jamaica health minister supports HIV testing for pregnant women

Jamaica's Health Minister, John Junor, has supported the idea of compulsory HIV testing of pregnant women, in an effort to reduce mother-to-child transmission of the virus that leads to the deadly AIDS disease. After returning from a United Nations conference on AIDS held in New York in mid-July, Junor said that he was intrigued to discover that in New York, pregnant women were compulsorily tested for HIV. Junor said that he would like to introduce a pilot project in Jamaica dealing with pregnant women and AIDS to include testing.

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Jamaica policeman brutally killed

One month before he was to go on pre-retirement leave, Jamaica police Inspector Everett Daley was gunned down at his home by killers a recent early Sunday morning. Police reports say that Inspector Everett Daley, 59, was shot several times in the chest by an undetermined number of gunmen around 1:30 a.m. just after he arrived home from a function with his wife and foster son. Inspector Daley was attached to the Half-Way-Tree police station's traffic division, and is the ninth policeman to be killed this year. This killing took place before the unrest in west Kingston so the number of policemen killed has increased since this.

It seems the policeman in Jamaica is up against some of the most brutal vicious killers in their execution of their vital role to that society. No other group come even close to the peril that they face and II wonder how many in Jamaica even realize or appreciate that.

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Two St. Lucia Hotels to close

More than 300 workers jobs have been jeopardised by Rex Resorts International ‘s decision to close two of its St. Lucia hotels. The 140-room all inclusive Papillon Hotel and the five star Royal St. Lucian which has 96 rooms will close in July until December because of what the owners say is a slowdown in business. There has been no official word from the hotel group, whose headquarters are in Britain, about the termination arrangements being put in place for the 330 employees who have however been promised re-employment when the hotels reopen December 15 for the usually lucrative winter season.

West Indies win Test series

For the first time in 6 years, the West Indies cricket team have won an away Test series. They defeated Zimbabwe by 1-0 in the 2-game series. Mention must be made of Zimbabwe's 17-year old player,  Hamiolton Masakadza. He launched Zimbabwe's fightback with 115 runs in the 2nd innings of the 2nd Test to establish historic firsts .

  • He is the first black to represent Zimbabwe in test cricket
  • He is the youngest player to represent Zimbabwe
  • He is the youngest player to make a century in his  test cricket debut. 

Test 1
(West Indies won by an innings and 176 runs)
1st Innings: Zimbabwe 155( King 4 for 51); West Indies 559 for 6 declared ( Gayle 175, Hooper 149, Ganga 89, Sarwan 58)
2nd Innings: Zimbabwe 228 ( Campbell 103, Ebrahim 75, McGarrel 4 for 38)

Test 2 (draw, rain stopped play)
1st Innings: Zimbabwe 131 (McGarrel 4 for 23); West Indies 347 (Sarwan 86, Chanderpaul 79, Strang 4 for 83)
2nd Innings: Zimbabwe 563 for 9 dec. (Masakadza 115, Wishart 93, Blignaut 92, Streak 83 n.o.); West Indies 98 for 1(Gayle 52 n.o.)


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Jamaican sprinter tested positive

Elation is fading. Last month Patrick made history by defeating invincible Olympic 100 meter champion Maurice Green. Now, he has tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid , stanozolol.
Jarrett was tested after placing 2nd to Chris Williams in the 100 meters about a month ago at Jamaica’s national trials, which earned him a spot at the world Championships in Edmonton, Canada in August. His sample along with 23 others was tested at an accredited lab in Montreal. Jarrett now has the right to request that the "B" sample be tested too. He has denied any wrong-doing. If found guilty, he faces a mandatory 2-year ban. Jarrett is coached by Trevor Graham, who also coaches top American sprinters, Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.

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Brazil to give away 800,000 condoms

They must have read Hot Calaloo’s article "Save the world – Use a Condom", originally written in the September 1996 edition of Hot Calaloo and reprinted here in the March 2001 update. Of course if you read my article, you will see that Brazil does not go far enough, but it’s a good start.

Brazil's Health Ministry and a business organization are giving away 800,000 condoms for lovers' day - June 12 - the South American nation's version of Valentine's day. Promoted as an effort to stop the spread of AIDS, the focus of the campaign are heterosexuals, who account for 43.5% of all new HIV infections in Brazil. The Health Ministry wants to triple the number of condoms used in Brazil each year from a current 600 million, Paulo Teixeira, head of the government HIV/AIDS task force, said at the launch of the campaign in Sao Paulo. The condoms are to be distributed between Saturday and Tuesday in cinemas, at newspaper stands and by companies associated with the National Business Council to Prevent HIV/AIDS, the group financing the campaign.

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"Dead-hustlers" invade the funeral business in Jamaica

At the Spanish Town morgue in Jamaica two men, armed with cell phones, are seen talking in hushed tones to the mourners. They are drumming up business. This and the Kingston morgue are popular hangouts for these "businessmen". These are informal undertakers and they are doing a flourishing business throughout the island disposing of the dead at the expense of regular funeral operators.

Through a supporting network of grave diggers, independent hearse owners, coffin and vault makers, they have set up a system that allows them to provide service for funerals, although the majority lack hearses or even cold rooms to store the deceased until burial. These informal unlicensed undertaskers are taking away lots of business from the traditional funeral operators complain bitterly that these "dead-hustlers have an unfair advantage and are taking away a lot of business from them. Some of the advantages these so called "dead-hustlers undertakers have are:

  • They pay no regular taxes, no light, no water
  • They are not licensed morticians
  • They do not maintain or pay regular permanent employees
  • They aggressively seek out business in morgues etc. while the traditional undertaker’s ethics require him to not bother or harass the bereaved but wait until they call.
  • They are able to offer much cheaper packages because of the low overhead

These informal undertakers are perfectly legal because no license is required to operate a funeral parlor. But, the Funeral Directors Association (FDA) is trying to change that.
A freelance undertaker who operates a parlour on King Street, Kingston shot back at the FDA. "The persons who are big in it now all started from scratch, and all of those funeral homes have secrets in terms of how they do business, they all have bones in their closets, everyone hustles," he said.

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Privy Council quashes Grenada murder conviction

The London-based Privy Council Tuesday quashed a 1998 murder conviction in Grenada of one man and sent the case of another back to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court for consideration of a re-trial. The men were convicted and sentenced to death after being found guilty of the 1996 murder of an elderly woman who was found with her throat cut. Both men claimed that police beat confessions out of them and contended that the evidence should have been inadmissible.

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Jamaica, UK police in new co-operation pact

The British police have accepted Jamaica's request for a new relationship to deepen and strengthen an existing agreement with the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica government sources have said. This was reached at a meeting in London recently, with Jamaica's National Security and Justice Minister, K.D. Knight and senior officers of the Metropolitan Police, led by Assistant Commissioner, David Vaness, and Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Michael Fuller. The Jamaican team also included Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security and Justice, Elaine Baker and Jamaica's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, David Muirhead.

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Whaling Conference ends in Dispute.

Six Caribbean nations are in the middle of the dispute which flared in the International Whaling Commission meeting in London. The conference ended without a vote on whether to overturn a 15-year old moratorium on commercial whaling. This is a very contentious issue with Japan and Norway leading the anti-moratorium pro-whaling forces. The meeting was clouded by allegations of vote-buying, with conservationists suggesting that Japan used foreign aid to pressure poor countries for their support. Many of the poor nations - including six in the Caribbean - voted with Japan on nearly every motion, including two that blocked the creation of special whale sanctuaries in the southern parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Japan denied the allegations.

The Caribbean countries are Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia, which is quite a strong block of votes on the 41-member commission. Dominica has just been granted a US9.8 million grant from Japan to finance their Coastal Fisheries project. Antigua Prime Minister Lester Bird admitted that his administration was supporting whaling because his country was getting aid from Japan but also because he claimed that research showed that the minky whale was no longer an endangered species.

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U.S. religious group lands in Cuba

A religious group opposed to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba arrived there recently in advance of its delivery of 80 tons of humanitarian aid. The Rev. Lucius Walker, founder of Pastors for Peace, said the 90 people in his group - most of them Americans - planned on returning home with Cuban products to demonstrate its opposition to U.S. restrictions on such imports. The aid - including medical equipment, tools for bicycle repair, school materials, computers, and food - left the Mexican port of Tampico on a Havana-bound ship on Wednesday and is expected to arrive later this week. The group that arrived in Havana aboard a commercial flight from Mexico on Wednesday had accompanied the shipment in a caravan of buses across the U.S. border into Mexico. This is the 12th visit to Cuba by Walker, who founded Pastors for Peace in 1988 to deliver aid from Americans to the Cuban people.

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