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Before Sept 2000

August 2000

US aid to Jamaica killing Guyana

Rice aid threatens trade
Guyana’s problems continue to increase. The border dispute with Suriname is still unsettled and it has about driven away the Canadian investment company affected. On the other border is Venezuela, probably watching the outcome since they themselves have a longstanding claim to about one half of Guyana’s territory. Now, a serious economic threat looms. Guyana’s rice industry is worried that it is losing one of its key markets, Jamaica, to competition from thousands of tons of subsidised American rice brought in through an aid program.

Guyana, which exports about 85 per cent of its annual production of nearly 400,000 tons (360,000 metric tons) of rice, says that thousands of tons of rice are piling up in silos because Jamaica now gets large quantities of U.S. rice under the PL-480 aid program.

"We are not saying that the Jamaicans should say no to the PL-480 program. All we are saying is that they can switch to another product like wheat, corn or soybeans, products that do not directly compete with the production and exports of a fellow Caribbean Community member", said Bram Stroot, managing director Alesie Rice. Stroot said it is hard for Guyanese farmers to compete with U.S. farmers because they do not have government subsidies.

Jag Singh, head of the Guyana Rice Development Board, said exports to Jamaica this year might barely reach 40,000 tons (36,000 metric tons) compared to 58,000 tons (52,000 metric tons) in 1997. Singh is a member of the country's so-called Rice Crisis Committee. "We got worried when we realised that Jamaica and the U.S. increased the amount Jamaica will get this year under the 480 program from around 30,000 tons (27,000 metric tons) to 43,500 (40,000 metric tons)," Singh said. "This means that this is time to get up and act because we don't know what will happen next year."

Aid with a sinister ulterior motive
Guyana has real cause for alarm and this is a good test of the mettle of CARICOM. US foreign aid is not altruistic. Historically it has been a means of extending American exports abroad. I suspect this is not an accident but a deliberate plan to cripple the Guyanese rice exports so that US producers can grab the Jamaican market after the subsidy runs out. Just a few years ago, the US went after Guyana rice export to Jamaica, claiming the CARICOM tariff, which protected Guyana, was unfair. They placed a lot of heat on Jamaica, ands indirectly on CARICOM then. Of course, Jamaica desperately needs any aid it can get, be it in the form of cheap American sudsidized rice. She could get it in another form, such as wheat, soybeans, etc., but "beggars are not choosers". So, although long negotiations between Guyana and Jamaica have taken place, it is a very complex and challenging dilemma. If the US really wanted to help, she would change from rice and there would be no problem. If on the other hand, she does not really want to help, but is just gobbling up the Guyana market, she will continue with rice. Time will tell which. In the meantime Guyana and Jamaica should seek support for the change from the wheat and soybean producers in the US.

So the meeting ended after two days. As expected, Jamaica did not agree to import any more rice from Guyana. But they signed a face-saving but ceremonial joint statement committing both countries to strengthen "trade and investment" relations and agreed to collaborate in the development of Guyana’s rice industry into "an integrated CARICOM rice industry". This is a victory for the US rice industry and could be a devastating loss for Guyana. But, from the start, it was unfair and Guyana did not have a chance.


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Move over MacDonalds for Island Grill of Jamaica

Why should foreign multinational corporations hog the entire Jamaican and international fast food chain business? Well not anymore. Move over MacDonalds as local Jamaican entrepreneurs' Island grill opened up their fifth fast food store in Jamaica. The new store is located in Centrepoint Plaza in Montego Bay and at a cost of J$15 million. A 6th store is set to open in Ocho Rios at the Island mall. But expansion is not limited to Jamaica. They announced specific international plans. These include stores in:

  • Fort Lauderdale in Lake Mall Fort, South Florida, by the end of this year.
  • Fort Lauderdale in Pembroke Pines
  • Birmingham, England

    Island Grill is already overseas with a restaurant in Brixton, London, where they have a joint partnership with Walker’s Wood Caribbean Foods.

Leases have already been signed for the Fort Lauderdale stores. US ambassador, Stan McLelland, helped unveil the plans for these Florida stores. Not only that but he is quoted as saying that it was good for trade and hoped they would retain their Jamaican values right down to their menus. Here! Here!
   Island Grill’s CEO Thalia Lyn states not only will they maintain their Jamaican menu, but are depending on this uniqueness to give them an edge amongst their Goliath competition. Part of the plan will mean taking Jamaican staff to its foreign outlets.

Hot Calaloo considers this one of the most welcome developments in recent years and in accordance with the Hot Calaloo’s Partnership With People (PWP) plan. It will :

  • keep the profits in Jamaica
  • even bring in hard currency to Jamaica from abroad from foreign outlets
  • use Jamaican agricultural products instead of the imported ones used by the foreign chains

Let us hope that :

  • the Jamaica government give them all the cooperation and assistance to make this as successful as possible
  • Jamaicans patronize these stores in great numbers and abandon those fat producing hamburger peddlers so rich and powerful that have been siphoning off badly needed cash away from Jamaica to their foreign corporate coffers.
  • The Jamaica government will see this as an indication that PWP will work and proceed to implement it in other goods and services already being devoured by a proliferation of foreign multinational corporations franchise operations

Now is indeed the time for PWP. Let us be bold in finding our own solutions, rather than meekly following the failed globalisation to worse poverty and disillusionment. Let us build that real partnership between the Government and people to prosperity and cast aside policies imposed from outside from sources which do not really have our interest at heart, unless by coincidence. We can do it. Let Thalia Lyn and Island Grill be our inspiration!


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Volunteer Caribbean Overseas Organisations Face Crisis

Volunteer Caribbean organisations all over America play a tremendous role in maintaining and sustaining the Caribbean culture, consciousness and identity. But, most of these organisations face a very severe crisis. Young people seem to shun these organisations. The vital and valuable work is done by essentially the long serving veterans, often of up to 20 or more years service. Where are the young people to carry on? Absent or barely on the fringe. Can these organisations survive? There is very little evidence that the younger people care enough for their Caribbean homelands to become involved in these organisations. It is indeed a tragic commentary of the times.

We hear "We need to entice them in." That’s been tried, but often to no avail. Besides, who enticed in the existing solid members? They were enticed by the need, their commitment, their love of their Caribbean homeland, their unselfish dedication to a worthy cause. So many have I known, who have toiled tirelessly long hours for decades, often without thanks and with undeserved criticism. These are real heroes. I am proud of them. But, where are their successors? "Whey dem dey?" Without them, these organisations despite their rich traditions of vital service not only to the Caribbean community in the US, but to Caribbean countries themselves, might die. What a shame!

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More activity feared at Montserrat volcano

As the dome of the deadly Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat continues to grow and an explosion or dome collapse appears increasingly imminent, authorities warned persons at sea to stay two miles away from the exclusion zone located on southern Montserrat. "There is an official marine exclusion zone of two miles around the exclusion zone on land so this is primarily to keep people away from potential pyroclastic flow activity," Interim Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) Dr Gill Norton told the government-run radio station. Anyone caught in the marine and land Exclusion Zone can be fined up to EC$1,000.

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US ackee ban lifted

For 27 years the US has banned the importation of ackees from Jamaica. But, at long last, the ban has been lifted. Now feasts of ackee and salt fish, Jamaica’s national dish will abound in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) had banned ackees because of food safety requirements. It was ok for individuals to bring canned ackees into the country, but not commercially. Now the USFDA has given the go-ahead to 2 of the 16 ackee processing companies in Jamaica. They are Canco Ltd. And Ashman Food Products. Other producers will be trying to meet these USFDA standards to obtain approval.. Ackee sales abroad are estimated at US$13 million per year, with $10 million going to the UK and Canada.

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Whaling controversy bags Dominica govt. minister

Minister quits in protest
Dominica voted with Japan at the recent whaling conference in Australia against the establishment of a South pacific whaling sanctuary. Dominica’s Agriculture and Planning Minister, and a prominent environmental campaigner, was so angered by the way his country voted that he resigned . He had held that cabinet position less than 6 months in the Rosie Douglas coalition government.

But, Govt. wins over new member
Not long afterwards, the Government gained a new member as opposition parliamentarian Loreen Bannis-Roberts crossed the floor to join their ranks. Bannis-Roberts, who contested the January 31 general election on a ticket for the United Workers Party (UWP) which was defeated in the poll, said the move was in the best interest of her constituents and the country. Her action did not really come as a surprise as Prime Minister Rosie Douglas, had for some time been wooing Bannis-Roberts to join the coalition in his quest for a government of national unity.

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New Crime Plan in Jamaica

The Jamaica government keeps plugging away at crime in announcing another crime plan. A special council is to be set up, headed by the Prime minister, and consisting of the Security Minister, the Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister,the Police Commissioner, the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) Chief of Staff, and the Commissioner of Corrections. This council will be responsible for policy decisions and implementing the crime plan. A senior level crime management team is to be established which will operate 24 hours a day to ensure smooth operations of the various security activities which will be activated. The JDF will continue to support police operations.

Some of the features of the new plan include:

  • Special expert teams will be deployed to the 15 most volatile crime areas until gun crimes there significantly lessen
  • A SWAT team is to be formed to handle situations where guns, drugs or gangs are involved
  • Increased vehicular spot checks
  • More scrutiny of points-of-entry to intercept the illegal importation of guns. This will mean more x-ray machines and special security officers at ports.
  • A special team will head overseas to source special equipment and expertise in forensics and intelligence gathering.

Editor’s Note: These crime reduction efforts are to be commended, but any new crime plan needs to give greater priority to building more public cooperation and confidence as spelled out in Hot Calaloo’s Discussion With People (DWP) crime reduction plan.

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Police support group formed in Jamaica

Hot Calaloo hails the formation of a police support group in Jamaica. This is bound to bring about better cooperation between the police and the public. A number of policemen have been brutally gunned down in recent months. But, not only have the police been besieged by gun-toting vicious criminal elements, but also by community groups outraged by actions of some of the police members. Unfortunately, the good always suffer for the bad, with good cops suffering for the abuses of bad cops.

It was especially good to see the kick-off ceremony of the Police Action Support Committee attended by Deputy Prime Minister, Seymour Mullings, State Minister for National Security and Justice, Ben Clare, Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe and representatives of the political parties. This is as important as any new crime plan. We cannot stress enough that the success of such a plan depends on the cooperation of the communities and the police, which cooperation is also the bedrock of Hot Calaloo’s DWP crime reduction plan.

Old Harbor Show Support
Meanwhile in the town of Old Harbour, about 2,000 residents there massed in a spontaneous support of District Constable, Derrick Roberts, who had been fatally shot. Even both the organiser and the police were surprised at the extent of the support. These supporters message was clear that it’s up to other citizens to begin cooperating with police if law and order is to prevail.

Police opposed
But there is still a long way to go. In Tawes Pen, police tried to arrest a suspect wanted for murder. Even though they possessed a warrant signed by a judge, residents threw up road blocks and prevented entry of the cops into the area for hours. Brandishing the court order made no difference. The police had to call in reinforcements, using a front loader eventually to clear the way, and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Unfortunately, this is not an infrequent occurrence for that area.

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Offshore banks sunk

The Offshore Finance Authority in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has revoked the licenses of 6 offshore banks. This was an immediate response to an advisory issued by the US Department of the Treasury. Many of these banks are considered to be failing to meet the requirements of the International Bank Act. They fail to make quarterly statements of accounts and financial statements as well as other lapses. These deficiencies make them suspect as money laundering fronts for drugs and other illegal activities.

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USA, Germany Sign US$4.8 billion slavery reparations

Reparations for slavery continue to be paid out but not for us. This time, German and U.S. officials and lawyers signed a historic deal recently to compensate hundreds of thousands of Nazi slaves and forced laborers from a 10 billion marks ($4.8 billion) fund. The fund is likely to be Germany's last big payment for crimes committed under Adolf Hitler's rule which have cost Germany $60 billion in reparations since World War Two.

Representatives from the governments of Germany, the United States, Israel and east European countries and American lawyers for the victims signed the final deal in Berlin. Agreement was reached after 18 months of often acrimonious negotiations. ``Unfortunately it's too late for many victims. In the end it's an acceptable compromise for all,'' German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said at a ceremony.

The German government contributed half of the compensation with the other half pledged -- but still not yet raised in full -- by over 3,000 German companies. First compensation payments to survivors should be made this year.

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Ja Govt. invests more in Air Jamaica

The Government of Jamaica intends to increase its investment in Air Jamaica from 25% to 40%. The Jamaica Parliament recently approved a Govt. guarantee for a multi-million dollar loan for the Butch Stewart "privatised" airline. According to the government’s Finance Minister, Dr. Omar Davies, the partial return of the airline to Government control, is linked to the level of commitments the government has undertaken.

Hmmmm…despite privatisation, it seems government money keeps going in and no profits come out.

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Cow rights

In Jamaica, cows not only have rights, but they have the right-of-way. Mr. Tony Freckleton, a well known farmer in Manchester got a chance to reflect on this as he recuperated in the hospital. His hospital stay resulted from an accident between his automobile and a herd of cows in his path on the road. It seems in that area the cows act as if they own the road and according to the law do own the right-of-way. These roadhog cows have become a menace to motorists, and seem intent on challenging these cow rights in court. ‘Til then, when you see a cow in the road in Jamaica, yield. Moooooooo!

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US Congress votes to lift Cuban limits

The US Congress voted to lift limits against U.S. food and drug sales to Cuba and allow Americans to freely travel there. Why? Because it was perceived as good for business. Yes, the vote was a major victory for farm, business and other groups trying to ease the four-decade-old sanctions against Fidel Castro's government. With supporters arguing that increased contacts would help weaken Castro's hold over the communist nation, the House voted 232-186 to stop enforcing rules that limit the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba. It then voted 301-116 to also halt enforcement of rules banning U.S. exports there of food, and of rules limiting sales there of American medicine.

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Trinidad satisfied with Cuba relations

Trinidad and Tobago's Foreign Minister Ralph Maraj reported that his country and Cuba were enjoying close relations while trade between them is on the rise. "We have never been as close as we are now in the history of the relations between the two countries," said Maraj during a ceremony on the departure of Cuban Ambassador, Guillermo Baptista, the first ever Resident Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. Maraj said Trinidad and Tobago was also one of the first countries in the Caribbean to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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 Wailing Souls Give Back To Trench Town

The Wailing Souls has announced it will donate a portion of the profits from its latest album, "Equality" (Musicblitz/Reggaeblitz Records) to Jamaica's Trench Town Development Association. The reggae group recorded the album in Kingston, Jamaica, near Trench Town, and it was the idea of members Lloyd "Bread" McDonald and Winston "Pipe" Matthews to give something back to the community.


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Bermuda shorts for Parliament

Bermuda shorts are now acceptable attire in Bermuda's Parliament. The shorts, in bright colours such as reds, pinks and yellows, are common garb in Bermuda. In the workplace they are paired with a dark jacket and matching knee socks.

"It is a very simple step that what is accepted in our country is acceptable in this place," Premier Jennifer Smith said of Parliament's new dress code. The code also allows men to wear safari suits and collarless Nehru suits and women to wear suits with pants or shorts. The opposition opposed it but the measure was approved after a brief debate.

Legislator Delaey Robinson, of the governing Progressive Labour Party, said the inclusion of local business wear was long overdue.

"The European traditionalists always seem to act with alarm when another tradition comes before them," Robinson said. "But there's no way I can come to this house representing my people in European dress."

Editor’s Comment: Reason enough for me to move to Bermuda!

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Ottey 4th in 100, will run in relay

Battling to come back after a one-year ban, five-time Olympian Merlene Ottey finished fourth in the 100 meters Friday in Jamaica's final trials for the Sydney Olympics. Still the 40-year-old Ottey, cleared July 3 of charges she used steroids, has made the Olympic team in the 400 relay. She finished the 100 in 11:21 seconds. Peta-Gaye Dowdie won in 11:19 seconds. Beverley McDonald was second, followed by Tanya Lawrence.

Ottey hinted that a lack of conditioning cost her the race. "Two weeks ago I wasn't sure I'd be here," she said. "It was good for Jamaica to see me one more time even though I wasn't in the best shape." This has the ring of truth since, in the preliminary, Ottey beat them all in 11.09 seconds. The four runners are expected to form Jamaica's 400 relay team in the Olympics.

Ottey was making her first appearance at a local meet since she was cleared by the International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF)of charges of using the steroid nandrolone after a positive test during the World Championships in Seville, Spain.

Should Ottey run the 100 m in the Olympics?
Track and field's world governing body reinstated her after concluding that a Swiss laboratory improperly tested the urine sample. The charge against her was suspect for a long time, which is why the JAA cleared her several months ago. The IAAF delay in clearing her, thereby keeping her out of competition, seemed deliberate, punitive and unfair. Considering these factors and the fact that she had the fastest time, I think the JAAA should enter her in the 100 m in the Olympics. "Justice delayed is justice denied." Shall we allow her to be victimized by the IAAF? She is our hero and deserves special treatment for this unique situation. We owe it to her. I hope that Beverly Mac Donald, who she would replace in the 100 m, sees it that way, especially since Beverly is competing in the 200.

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World Cup CONCACAF Section - Semi-finals

The World Cup 2002 playoffs are now in thre 2nd round, the semi-finals for the CONCACAF regions.  The teams  compete in 3 groups, Group C, D, and E with the top 2 teams  going through to the Final Group of CONCACAF qualifying, when the top three in that stage will go to Japan and Korea in 2002.

Group C
Panama, Mexico, Trinidad and Tabago and Canada.

T&T out front
This is the toughest group, the group of death. T&T opened in Canada with a   fortunate 2-0 victory over the Gold Cup champions. But, they went on to dominate and beat top seeded Mexico1-0 in T&T on a beautiful goal by Russel Latapy, and now sit alone atop the group with the maximum 6 points..

Table - Group C
Team P W D L F A Pts
Trinidad & Tobago 4 4 0 0 13 0 12
Mexico 4 3 0 1 10 2 9
Panama 4 0 1 3 1 14 1
Canada 4 0 1 3 0 8 1

Schedule: (home team first; all dates 2000)

July 16 Panama 0 Mexico  1 
July 16 Canada  0 Trinidad & Tobago    2 
July 23 Panama  0 Canada   0 
July 23 Trinidad & Tobago   1 Mexico       0


Aug 15 Mexico 2 Canada   0
Aug 16 Trinidad & Tobago  6 Panama   0
Sept 3 Mexico 7 Panama    1 
Sept 3 Trinidad & Tobago  4 Canada    0
Oct 10 Canada


Oct 10 Mexico


Trinidad & Tobago
Nov 15 Panama


Trinidad & Tobago
Nov 15 Canada




Group D
Jamaica, El Salvador, St Vincent & Grenadines,  and Honduras.

Jamaica lead
Jamaica opened with a lucky 1-0 win over lowly rated ST. Vincent. Within the first minute of game 2 against a Honduras team which had opened with a 5-2 thrashing of a strong El Salvador team, Jamaica trailed 0-1. The 5-year unbeaten record at the National Stadium seemed in jeopardy. But, the Reggae Boyz restored the faith of its supporters with 3 unanswered goals and a convincing win.Jamaica with Onandi Lowe excelling at striker, seemed to have regained their scoring touch and are alone at the top of the group with the maximum 6 points.

Group D
Team P W D L F A Pts
Jamaica 4 2 0 0 4 1 6
Honduras 4 1 0 1 9 6 3
El Salvador 4 1 0 1 6 5 3
St Vincent & Grenadines 4 0 0 2 1 8 0

Schedule: (home team first; all dates 2000)

July 16 El Salvador  2 Honduras   5  
July 16 St Vincent   0 Jamaica   1 
July 23 El Salvador   7 St Vincent    1  
July 23 Jamaica    3 Honduras   1  


Aug 16 Honduras


St Vincent
Aug 16 Jamaica


El Salvador
Sept 2 Honduras


El Salvador
Sept 3 Jamaica


St Vincent
Oct 8 St Vincent


El Salvador
Oct 8 Honduras


Nov 15 El Salvador


Nov 15 St Vincent



Group E
USA, Barbados, Costa Rica and  Guatemala.

US who is expected to win that group easily, find themselves winless and in last place after 2 games away. So, they must be gearing up big time for their home opener against Barbados. Barbados shocked powerhouse Costa Rica 2-1 in its opener at home.

Group E
Team P W D L F A Pts
Guatemala 2 1 1 0 3 1 4
Costa Rica 2 1 0 1 3 3 3
Barbados 2 1 0 1 2 3 3
USA 2 0 1 1 2 3 1

Schedule: (home team first; all dates 2000)

July 16 Guatemala    1 USA     1  
July 16 Barbados   2 Costa Rica  1  
July 22 Guatemala  2 Barbados    0 
July 23 Costa Rica  2 USA     1   


Aug 15 Costa Rica


Aug 16 USA


Sept 3 USA


Sept 3 Costa Rica


Oct 10 USA


Costa Rica
Oct 10 Barbados


Nov 15 Guatemala


Costa Rica
Nov 15 Barbados




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